Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases
Explaining or commenting on published judgments of family court cases
Highlighting other transparency news
MEDIA (MIS)REPORTS OF FAMILY COURT CASES
The Express and Mirror – We explained the law in response to Express and Mirror reports that viewers of Coronation Street had been shocked to discover that a 14 year old could lawfully have an abortion without her parents being told. See Coronation Street Child Abortion Storyline: What is the law?:
The Times, Mirror and Mail – The Times recently reported Shamima Begum asking what would happen to her baby. We wrote about the general safeguarding approach likely to apply. See Shamima’s baby – the family law aspect. (The situation continues to change on a daily basis. See for example reports the Home Secretary has acknowledged baby Jerah would be entitled to British consular help to come to the UK as a British Citizen, if he could be taken out of Northern Syria with the consent of his mother to somewhere with a British consular presence and reports they have now fled within Syria due to death threats). We aim to update and comment, including on claims from a Henry Jackson centre report on radicalisation and terrorism, that the family courts require urgent reform to be ready for a cohort of Shamima / Jerah equivalents and the serious challenges of extremism (as reported in the Mail and Mirror):
BBC News – Were criticised for a sensationalist headline in response to the Court of Appeal decision to quash Sally Challen’s murder conviction and order a re-trial. Notable too, was their speed of response in changing the headline. (In January, IPSO – who don’t regulate BBC News – suggested they’d draw up new guidance on reporting domestic abuse, outside the actual Editor’s Code rules that permit sensationalism, short of inaccuracy or significant misleading). (See also this twitter exchange on stringent restrictions imposed on reporting the final judgment, despite the fact the evidence and judgment were given in public, with much already reported and even live-tweeted contemporaneously):
The Guardian, Mail and BBC Radio 4 – Reported a governor’s resignation from the Tavistock citing concerns about their child gender identity service and response to the Bell report. See here and here /listen here (1.46-1.58). See also Missing Their Story: How A Media Furore Meant We Missed The Bigger Picture On Trans And Non-Binary Rights at Rights Info:
The Daily Mail – Just for Kids Law challenged a Daily Mail suggestion that children being spared prosecution by proving they are victims of criminal exploitation was a “loophole” in the Modern Slavery Act rather than the law serving its purpose. See Essential but underused: The Modern Slavery Act and child criminal exploitation. (See also reports last week of new evidence from the children commissioner’s office on the scale and response to child exploitation through gang membership):
BBC News – Showcased (and explained) the value of the Local Democracy Reporting Service in keeping vital public interest issues in the headlines – here new figures exposing continuing serious problems with social work recruitment:
The Guardian – Promoted debate on the difficult balance between privacy and scrutiny in the family courts, publishing Until the press become more mature, children will continue to need to have their privacy protected, letter in response to their earlier editorial, Transparency is in the public interest. (See also Louise Tickle, Journalist and Transparency Project member, here on transparency and how modern communications are affecting family law and journalism, based on her previous lecture and recent successful appeal against a reporting restriction order):
Linker of the Week
BBC News – We’ve not seen a link to a family court judgment in weeks. But look how happy a simple link from BBC News (here to a judgment declaring the right to rent scheme incompatible with human rights law) has made us all. (Thanks @suttonnick, BBC News website Editor. See here):
Care Appointments and the Mail (among others) – Care Appointments reported this judgment, HHJ Vincent had anonymised and published for public benefit, without linking to it. Likewise the Mail Mrs Justice Knowles’ judgment:
NEWLY PUBLISHED JUDGMENTS FOR EXPLANATION OR COMMENT
BC v BG  – We explained this family court judgment confirming the correct process for disagreements following arbitration (a type of dispute resolution in family finance cases). See Challenging arbitration awards in divorce cases:
Southend-On-Sea Borough Council v Meyers  – Blog to follow (we hope) on a sad, compelling and legally interesting court of protection decision from Hayden J concerning 97 year old Mr Meyers (who incidentally had no wish to be anonymised and consider[ed] that the issues raised require[d] fully to be in the public domain).
A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests) and B (Capacity: Social Media: Care and Contact) – Alex Ruck Keene @Capacitylaw explained both court of protection judgments (clarifying what should be taken into account to decide capacity for decision making about internet and social media use).
L-W Children  – The Court of Appeal allowed a mother’s appeal against a finding she’d failed to protect her child where the facts didn’t support that and cautioned against treating failure to protect as an almost inevitable ‘bolt-on’ to a finding on who injured a child. See Family Law Week:
C (Interim threshold not crossed)  – SuesspiciousMindsexplained a family court decision that put the legal approach back on track and found the interim threshold for removing a child from permanent carers not met.
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
Reforming the court’s approach to Mckenzie Friends – Paul Magrath commented on the Judiciary’s (eventual) response to their own consultation on McKenzie Friends. See also the Gazette and DB Family Law:
The digital court reform programme
The Justice Alliance & Transform Justice are calling for evidence & supporting submissions to the Justice Committee Inquiry on the access to justice implications at a free event on Monday 4th March. (The consultation closes 11th March. The Transparency Project will be responding and publishing it’s response).
The Legal Education Foundation (with UCL and Oxford University) issued draft recommendations on behalf of the MOJ for measuring the impact of online courts reforms on access to justice, and asked for feedback by 22nd March.
See also the published slides and transcript from Joshua Rozenberg’s lecture at Gresham College, Justice Online: we there yet and David Burrows asking how rights of accredited journalists and legal bloggers (under pilot), to attend private family court hearings, will be protected in the event of video link hearings:
Free webinar Monday 4th March 1pm, supporting responses to the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice consultation – The consultation closes 7th March 2019. Sign up for the webinar here:
Consultation on fitness to practice rules from the new Social Work England regulator – The consultation closes on 1st May 2019. Responses via the Social Work England online surveys here or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org See this Community Care report for more information.
Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinen via CreativeCommons licence – with thanks