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No further media access before Family Justice Review is completed

Date:11 OCT 2010

MediaJustice Minister Jonathan Djanogly has stated that the government has decided to wait until the Family Justice Review has published its final report before determining whether to allow more media access to family courts.

Part 2 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 received Royal Assent in April, but the provisions in Part 2, which relates to the reporting of family court proceedings by the media, have not yet been commenced.

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Djanogly said that the final report of the Family Justice Review would allow the Ministry of Justice "to consider the changes Part 2 of the Act would introduce in light of the Review's recommendations for reform of the family justice system".

The Act was passed in the 'wash up' before the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the General Election. 

However, before Part 2 of the Act may be brought into effect, there must be a full independent review to the outcome of granting media access to the family courts in April 2009. The conclusions of the review must then be set out in a report laid before Parliament.

In addition, before the independent review of media access can commence, a full review has to be completed of the findings from the pilot allowing for the publication of anonymised judgments. The review of the pilots is yet to commence.

Part 2 of the Act is controversial amongst many family lawyers due to concerns about the diminished protection provided to the welfare and privacy of the child, the undermining of key ethical principles underscoring the work of professionals such as doctors and social workers, and the delay and cost which the system would have to bear. The House of Commons own committee on human rights questioned whether the measures conflict with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.