Saturday, 25 April 2009

UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF THE MEDIA


New rules to open family courts to the media rushed in by the government represent a missed opportunity to allow thorough and effective public scrutiny, Resolution is warning, as it calls for the establishment of a Family Courts’ Inspectorate.

From Monday accredited journalists will be allowed to attend divorce, custody and care proceedings, unless the court has specifically excluded them. But the new rules will not allow journalists to report on what they hear in court and cases not considered newsworthy will presumably continue to be conducted in private.

Resolution believes that:
• The provisions should be further extended to allow journalists to report on specific cases but with appropriate safeguards to ensure anonymity and prevent identification
• An expanded Family Courts' Inspectorate, consisting primarily of lay members should be set up to report on consistency within the family courts.

2 comments:

Divorce Saloon said...

Guess I am slightly confused by this new rule. In New York, for example, there is no media ban per se. The media does not usually report on non-newsworthy cases and often cases are anonymized, but the First Amendment concerns and the public's right to transparency in the courts have been over-riding concerns and so I am not aware of a media ban in the U.S. (Actually parties often fight to keep records sealed) So, I guess, in trying to understand this British rule, my first question would be, do you have a "First Amendment"...sorry but I am slightly confused about this development in your family law courts. What is the real implication of this rule?

Divorce Saloon

Judith said...

Now I know that the UK is often referred to as the 51st state but no we definitely haven't adopted the First Amendment. Good grief it took us until 1998 to pass a Human Rights Act!
Implications simply are that to date most family proceedings have been conducted in private and whilst the public are still not to be permitted entry, accredited members of the Press are. Somewhat of a change, you might say.