Openness in the Family Courts: A Rare Voice

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New openness in the family justice system is going to affect children cases more than finance ones, but although it’s not of direct relevance to this blog, I’m linking to this interesting article by Thomas McMahon on spiked about the lifting of reporting restrictions in the family courts. I confess I have quite a lot of sympathy for the views he expresses. It has done the family courts no favours to develop a culture of secrecy, and that is the way the public perceive it, whether that was the intention or not. On many occasions the spectre of confidentiality seems to be invoked to protect the children involved when in reality the real aim is to protect the adults. The welfare principle can sometimes seem to be more honoured in the breach than in the observance. My guess is that opening up the reporting of proceedings and in particular making the general public more aware of the welfare principle will make everyone involved in Children Act proceedings more careful about ensuring that they refer expressly to section 1. Anything that achieves that aim in my view has to be a good thing. Unfortunately many of the partisans of a more open family justice system want to move in the opposite direction. It’s particularly interesting that Mr McMahon is not a lone voice, but a pretty rare one. Are most people simply not bothered about the family justice system until it affects them personally?