News

Lawyer bloggers given access to family courts in bid to combat ‘racy’ press coverage

By on
1

Pilot scheme will run until June next year

A first-of-its-kind blog by a lawyer reporting directly from a family court was published this week.

Written by Lucy Reed, family law barrister at St John’s Chambers who spearheaded a campaign to get greater and better coverage of what goes on in family courts, the blog could be published after rules on who can report from courts where family matters are involved (such as divorce, contact orders, children in care and so on) were lifted.

Reed, who has been blogging since 2007 on her popular Pink Tape, announced the news on social media:

The post entitled ‘Inaugural Legal Blogging Day’ appeared on the Transparency Project website, a charity chaired by Reed with the aim of informing the public on family law and family courts.

Reed has been campaigning since 2014 to open access to family courts to non-press people as a counter to newspaper stories which are headline-grabbing and emotive, to encourage the publication of reports on cases which do not necessarily sell newspapers but still should be reported in the public interest. She writes:

“The press comprises of commercial enterprises, who need to sell stories to survive. The range of material they report will always be selective. The manner in which they report stories will usually be interesting, entertaining or racy, but not always informative or educative… I think more and different reporting may be part of the answer.”

The pilot allows access to bloggers (and other writers) who are also lawyers: bloggers must have certain legal qualifications though they do not need to be practising solicitors or barristers.

Also allowed in are lawyers (so defined) who work in higher education or for a charity (as long as the charity has been cleared by the Family Division). The pilot will run for nine months until 30 June 2019.

The 2019 Chambers Most List

The blog could not go into the details of the case that Reed had been present at because of specific reporting restrictions (which bind press and non-press alike) but it did give a more positive and revealing account of what some of these hearings are like. She writes:

“[W]hat I saw was the culmination of the process and the feeling in the courtroom was overwhelmingly positive. The father was present and the judge spoke directly to him, of the need to support the children’s placement and the importance of his role as a father. Being a parent, said the judge, was the most important thing you can do in life, much more important than being a judge.”

Reactions to the scheme have been enthusiastic from most lawyers, such as Doughty Street barrister and Twitterati member, Adam Wagner:

The Transparency Project has recently secured funding from the Legal Education Foundation. The site also publishes a family court reporting watch round-up, which feeds back on inaccurate or misleading press reports of family law cases.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

1 Comment

Rhubarb

This could be a step in the right direction, but are they part of the establishment and therefore report in a propaganda mannor, or only attend open and shut cases to skew the reported view.

Are they going to blog and say they think the decisions were wrong in their oppinion (judges get it wrong, thats why there are appeal procedures).

Personally I think there is instatutionalised discrimination within the system despite the Equalities act, which is therefore discriminating against the child by proxy of the parent (recently established in a case law with regards to ECHR and the child being discriminated).
I would love for this discrimination to be propperly investigated and reviewed to establish some real positive change for our children’s sake.

Perhaps with a large database of public reports on the cases a correlation can be seen from its analysis showing this.

#RhubarbReview to improve upon the COBB review which helped with some improvements but has fallen short, although clearly its findings of lack of education with those that practice highlights the problems involved, and this is no easy task.

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories