In a recent decision by Lord Justice Munby, the most senior family law judge in England and Wales, there is a victory for campaigners for open justice.
This should not be mistaken as a triumph for “the nosey”. In cases where there are children, the interests of the children should always be paramount and in practice the presence of the media in family law cases has remained rare.
This new ruling, however, means that there must be clear and explicit reasons for a judge to decide against the publication of rulings.
This will also extend to the family courts to include divorce and finance cases. The presumption will therefore be in favour of the publication of decisions, which may sometimes need to be anonymised.
As I have said, potentially divorce cases involving children may not be in the public interest to publish but high profile cases, including those involving celebrities would be.
This transparency may restore some public confidence that the right decisions are being made. Nevertheless reporting by the media may still be shrouded by restriction.
One of the concerns is that the effect of closed divorce trials can be that every family law court battle exists in a vacuum and justice may suffer because the parties or parents going through a divorce have no way of trusting that their own experience is the norm.
Lord Justice Munby deserves credit for making these changes but, by their nature, all family law proceedings are sensitive. There should be a balance between justice and privacy but for the blindfolds to be removed.
James Maguire & Co is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this and children matters including child maintenance.
We can also advise on Schedule1 Children Act 1989 applications.
We advise clients in the Wilmslow area and also to the surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Bramhall, Hale, Altrincham, Manchester and the North West. We are also able to act for clients nationally and internationally subject to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. For advice please contact James Maguire by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email james.maguire@family-law.