The Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot (TIG), which is being brought in on the 29th of January 2024, will allow for a much larger scale of reporting around family court cases.
There will be a large increase from the three family courts in Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle which began this scheme in January 2023, to 19 family courts throughout England and Wales.
The courts taking part are: Liverpool, Manchester, West Yorkshire, Kingston-upon-Hull, Nottingham, Stoke, Derby, Birmingham, the Central Family Court in London, East London, West London, Dorset, Truro, Luton, Guildford, and Milton Keynes.
Whilst names of families and social workers will be left anonymous, their experiences from within the court will be sought and documented for the wider public to access. In order for journalists to have the freedom to report on family court cases, the judge who is hearing the case needs to authorise a transparency order which sets out strict rules on what can and cannot be reported. This has been available for many years, however the change coming into force at the end of January means that transparency orders will now be the default in the relevant courts, making it easier for journalists to get authorisation.
The aim of this scheme is to improve the feeling of trust within the family court system due to an increase in transparency and accountability, whilst allowing families to better understand the family court system, especially if there have been previous reports around cases similar to their own. This will hopefully be a step in the right direction for people to understand the “vital and challenging work” undertaken within the family courts, according to the president of the High Court’s Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane.
This scheme will be rolled out in three successive steps in terms of the type of cases being reported on. Initially, it will only be public law cases, in which the local authority has issued proceedings and is a party itself, with the judge deciding on future care plans for children. For example, whether they should be placed into care. The second stage of the scheme will include private law cases between parents in Leeds, Cardiff, and Carlisle, and eventually there will be reporting within the Magistrates Family Court.
Our child law experts at Farleys see this as a positive step overall to ensure that the public can see the range of decisions that are being made by judges in the family court and the complexities of cases that Farleys and the courts are seeing in recent years.
That can only bring confidence in the system overall. However, the continuing anonymity of parties and, of course, of the children is crucial to ensure that they cannot be identified.
This change underlines the importance of expert family law advice in any cases concerning your children. Please contact the family law team here at Farleys if you need any advice or assistance on this or any other matter. Call 0845 287 0939, get in touch by email, or use the online chat below.