New rules for family courts access

Government publishes rules allowing for media access to family courts

The Government has today laid before Parliament new rules allowing for access to family court proceedings by media representatives.

Under the rules, which will come into force on 27th April 2009, only accredited representatives of the media will be allowed to attend family cases. Accreditation is carried out by the UK Press Card Authority. Members of the public and unaccredited journalists will not be allowed to attend.

Judges in individual cases are given a wide discretion to exclude media representatives, on various grounds including that such exclusion would be in the interests of any child concerned in or connected to the proceedings.

The rules do not permit the publication of information from the proceedings to the world at large. Journalists who attend cases will therefore require the permission of the court to report what they have seen.

No changes are made to the rules governing anonymity of children involved in family cases. This will in practice mean that where family cases involving children are reported this will have to be done anonymously.