The President of the Family Division’s New Guidance on Reporting in the Family Courts (3rd October 2019) – Becket Chambers

‘Faced with the competing claims of transparency and privacy, free speech and family life, family law will always incline towards the latter. Its first instincts are protective, guarding the intimacies and lives of its own subject families and, particularly, its children.[1] First and foremost, family proceedings are and remain private matters. This fundamental principle holds fast. However, things are not simply as they were before. Successive Presidents of the Family Division have now expressly addressed the subject in the form of three separate occasions. At the very least, it is clear that the dynamic is being given careful thought. Whilst the guidances do not amount to a tilting of the scales, they are nevertheless guidances specifically designed to address acts of reporting. When President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby issued two guidances on transparency and anonymisation. Sir Andrew McFarlane, the current President, has now (as of October 2018) issued further guidance specifically dealing with applications to lift and vary reporting restrictions.’

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Becket Chambers, 15th January 2020