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The expansion of the ‘Reporting Pilot’ in the Family Courts

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There has been a longstanding concern that family courts are the ‘secret courts’ and decisions made within them are hidden from view. This confusion arises as family court proceedings are private to ensure there is no unnecessary intrusion into your family’s life – especially when there are children involved.

In response to the criticisms and to increase accountability and transparency of the Family justice system, the ‘Transparency Reporting Pilot’ was introduced in January 2023. Initially this only operating in courts in Leeds, Cardiff, and Carlisle Family courts.

On the 29th January 2024 this was rolled out into other courts including our local court at Liverpool.

This means that the courts will be allowed to make a ‘Transparency Order’ that permits legal bloggers and accredited journalists to report on what they see and hear during family court trials, subject to strict rules of confidentiality. They will be entitled to sit in hearings, communicate with parties, see some court documents and report on the cases.

Reporting will initially be restricted to “public law” matters in which courts are applications made by a local authority and often require decisions to be made on whether a child is placed into care.

Who is allowed to report?

The pilot will only allow a journalist who holds a UK Press Card, or a lawyer (also called a legal blogger) who is not associated with the case but is permitted to attend hearings just like a journalist.

This will hopefully ensure that the reporting will be accurate whilst also adhering to the strict rules of anonymity and will prevent any member of the public or individual with an interest in a case from attending proceedings.

But remember that, although the reporter will be allowed to conduct anonymous interviews with the parties as permitted through the pilot scheme, this can be refused and so the parties are not obliged to do so.


The privacy of children, family members and vulnerable adults will remain under the new scheme, and strict rules will be in place on what the journalists can and cannot report on subject to the ‘Transparency Order’.

What cannot be reported:

  • the names of any children or family members involved;
  • the places that the children live or go to;
  • The dates of birth of any children;
  • photographs of the children.

What can be reported:

  • Details of a case;
  • certain documents;
  • what happens at a hearing;
  • the names of any Legal Representatives;
  • the names of any Local Authorities;
  • the names of any experts appointed by the Family Court.

Note that the ‘Transparency Order’ does not allow the parties of a case to report or publish anything about their case including on social media.

What if a party does not want their case included in the pilot?

If a party involved feels uncomfortable about their case being reported on, they can discuss this with their solicitor who will be able to inform the court of any concerns before they make a decision; a party cannot opt out of a ‘Transparency Order’ unless the judge agrees.

The judge will then take care to consider any worries that a party may have balancing this with the aim of the Pilot which is promoting the openness in the court, when deciding whether to stop all reporting, alter the ‘Transparency Order’ to limit what the journalists can report on or to leave it in place.

The pilot scheme aims to strike the right balance between the transparency of proceedings and privacy for the families before the court.