open justice – government proposals

The Times reports that the government has had further thoughts on the subject of open justice. After consulting and then shelving its original proposals for opening up the family court system it seems that there is a now a plan, albeit in the early stages, to pilot anonymised judgments in three areas of the country.

According to the Times article: ‘the cases to be covered include decisions about children being taken into care, decisions on contact with an absent parent and on removing a child from the UK. But they will also include decisions relating to disputes over “matters of religion, culture or ethnicity” or that turn on disputes of medical or other expert opinion or on human rights issues.

I must say that this would be a welcome development, although I’m sure for some campaigners not sufficient. One only has to look at the frankly appalling attempts this week by members of the public and the press* to identify and track down the married twins whose sorrowful and very private story appears everywhere this week to see one good, albeit extreme, example of why the unrestricted access of the public (if not the press) to family court matters could in fact do an injustice to the individuals whose lives are being affected by it.

There is nothing I can find so far on the Ministry of Justice website, but perhaps something will appear soon.

*I’m not sure if the press are being foolish enough to try and track these poor people down, but they are certainly reporting it along with the names of the suspected individuals.

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