February 28, 2006
Family law media reporting challenge
Court of Appeal hears test case over reporting restrictions in the family courts
The Court of Appeal will today hear an appeal by a father against an order restraining him from discussing with the media his dispute with his former wife over their custody arrangements for their child.
The injunction was granted at the conclusion of Children Act proceedings in July 2005. The proceedings ended after the parents entered into an unusual shared-parenting agreement.
Granting permission to appeal in December 2005, Wall LJ said that the case raised “in acute form the purpose and function of long term injunctions in Children Act proceedings and the circumstances in which the litigant finds him or herself when restrained by such an injunction, namely precisely what they can and what they cannot say and to whom, and also of course what function the injunction itself actually is to fulfil.”
The Court will be invited to examine the ambit of section 97 of the Children Act 1989, and in particular whether the provision which forbids identification of any child who is the subject of Children Act proceedings, continues to have force after those proceedings have been concluded.
The appellant also contends that if the prohibition on publication under section 97(2) does continue after the conclusion of proceedings, then the section should be ‘read down’ to permit identification in cases such as this.