Transparency in the Family Courts: Publicity and Privacy in Practice

One of the reasons Pink Tape has been somewhat neglected of late is that, along with Transparency Project colleagues Julie and Paul, I have been writing a book about Transparency for Bloomsbury (The publish Harry Potter!! I know, right?), which is about to be published :

Transparency in the Family Courts: Publicity and Privacy in Practice

As a result, I have foolishly agreed to speak at the Bloomsbury Family Law Conference, on 16 May in London. I may* borrow my son’s Elder Wand as a prop, accompanied by intermittent cries of ‘Stupefy!!’).

*I won’t

Below you can see me talking about transparency (with hand gestures but no wand), in response to questions from fellow muggle Paul Magrath.

If you are still interested in buying the book after watching me pontificate, you can get a 15% discount using this code : BPTFC15. See how much I love you all?

If you are not yet persuaded, watch out for the stonkingly lovely foreword from Lord Justice McFarlane which I think will probably be posted on the Bloomsbury site in the near future (or maybe here if I’m allowed).

Losing the Thread – Hemming and Mumsnet

Twitter recently alerted me to the existence of an interesting discussion thread on Mumsnet concerning adoption and care and John Hemming (Hat tip to @carlgardner, who in turn got his heads up from @thesmallplaces). I have also found another equally interesting thread concerning and involving Hemming.

As a preliminary point let me say that I can’t comment on whether or not the comments contained in these threads are true or accurate. But I can comment briefly on their potential significance if true.

In the first thread the points of most interest are contained in the account given by user Trippy, who describes having been encouraged by Hemming to adopt a stance of non-cooperation and to flee the jurisdiction. She is admirably able in hindsight to acknowledge her own failings as a mother, but appears to feel that Hemming’s advice to flee the jurisdiction and to adopt a stance of non-cooperation with social workers may have adversely affected the outcome in her case, or at any rate was not helpful. She also suggests offers of assistance with travel abroad were made. If what Trippy describes is accurate it would be both shocking and concerning behaviour from an MP. However, I am not in a position to verify or investigate these matters, and I can only flag them up for others to consider. Note, as I have been writing this post the comment in question from Trippy has been removed and marked “Message withdrawn at poster’s request”. I don’t have a screen capture, but if I did I would have to consider carefully whether or not to post it or to respect Trippy’s privacy. As it is I have decided to go ahead with the post and use it as a starting point for a discussion about the issues it raises rather than an analysis of the individual case.

Continue Reading…

Privacy Law Change Shelved

As heralded here the implementation of the CSFA 2010 reforms has been shelved pending the report of the Family Justice Review Committee in the autumn of 2011 (The MoJ website summarises the announcement here).
Which is odd, because the terms of reference of that committee relate only to system and process and specifically exclude making recommendations about substantive law. And I quote (the Review’s own summary of its remit):

The Review will:

  • examine both public and private law cases
  • explore if better use can be made of mediation and how best to support contact between children and non-resident parents or grandparents
  • examine the processes (but not the law) involved in granting divorces and awarding ancillary relief, and
  • look at how the different parts of the family justice system are organised and managed.

So I’m not really sure what waiting for the review committee’s report is going to achieve. But then I suppose if it recommends abolition of large chunks of family proceedings as we know them, the Act will become largely redundant. Either way, I would wager the sections of the CSFA 2010 bearing upon publication of information in family proceedings will go the way of much of the FLA 1996 (never brought into force).

Previous posts on the CSFA 2010 can be found by clicking here.