18 January 2024

Journalist reporting to be allowed in family courts in England and Wales in 2024

By Emma George, Family Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

On January 12th 2024, it was announced that from 29th January 2024 almost half of the family courts will allow journalists and legal bloggers to report on family law cases in England and Wales. This means that those involved in family proceedings could expect to see a journalist at their next hearing.

It should be noted that names of families and individual social workers involved will be anonymous in the reporting. However, it should be expected that reports can be extended to matters concerning both matrimonial finances and child arrangements.

Which courts are affected by the change?

Currently Liverpool, Manchester, West Yorkshire, Hull, the Midlands, Dorset, Truro, Luton, Guildford, Milton Keynes and all London family courts are affected. However, as the original pilot scheme to allow journalists in court only took place in three courts previously, it is possible that further changes could be implemented in the future to allow journalists in every court in England and Wales.

Will family cases still be confidential?

Whilst official guidance has not been provided as to what information will be released if both private and public family proceedings allow journalists, it should be assumed that personal details such as names will remain confidential unless a Judge orders otherwise.

Parties should therefore be aware that details of their cases could be published in the future and keep this in mind when attending court.

It is worth noting that parties are still not themselves able publish information from the proceedings, including re-publishing any media articles or blogs written about their case under the pilot if they add comment that might identify the child concerned.

Why have journalists been allowed to enter family courts?

Documenting cases will allow the public to see how proceedings work and hopefully enable reform in the courts where required. This will then allow for positive change and necessary improvements to be made to the court system. Judge’s will also be open to more scrutiny in respect of the vital decisions they are making when considering where/whom children are going to live with.

For further information, please contact the family law team on 01328 863231​ or email family-law@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.