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Legal Bloggers to Report on Family Proceedings
From the 1st October, certain “legal bloggers” will be allowed to attend family court hearings to report on family proceedings. The pilot scheme will be led by the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary and will run for 9 months. Bloggers hoping to report on proceedings will have to meet specific criteria and only 3 categories of lawyers will be allowed to report on proceedings. Broadly speaking, these will be lawyers holding a current practicing certificate, lawyers working for a recognised higher education institution or lawyers working for a registered educational charity.
It is hoped that this pilot scheme will make strides towards greater transparency in the family justice system, as called for by the former family division president Sir James Munby back in November 2013. One potential advantage of the pilot scheme is that it will give the public a more rounded view of the decisions made by family courts. Often the family law cases that hit the headlines involve either celebrity scandals or an atypical decision that does not reflect the general reality of the Court’s usual decision making. This may help to correct that.
There are of course a number of legal bloggers who are not qualified lawyers. Should the pilot scheme prove successful, it may be that the opportunity to report on family proceedings is opened up to bloggers from different backgrounds. However, the motivations of those seeking to report on family proceedings will need to be considered as those wishing to push certain agendas may lack the impartiality to report on proceedings accurately. This would no doubt harm one of the underlying purposes of making the family justice system more transparent - which is to facilitate healthy discussion and debate in order to improve its efficacy.