Following the passing of a statutory instrument in Parliament on 12 March 2020, the law is to be changed to allow for the live streaming of Family Law cases heard in the Court of Appeal.
The cases will be streamed via the judiciary website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with the first case (yet to be decided) to be streamed later this year.
This decision follows the success of the live streaming of selected civil cases in the Court of Appeal which has been running since 2018.
Given the often sensitive nature of family cases there will be a number of protections in place. Cases which would be subject to media reporting restrictions will not be broadcast. This would include cases which require restrictions to protect a child’s welfare or if necessary, to restrict reporting for the safety and protection of the parties or witnesses. For added protection, family cases which are live streamed will be broadcast with a 90 second delay and the camera will be focused on the judge’s bench, not the parties or witnesses. Parties will be informed before the hearing that their case has been selected for livestreaming and will be given the opportunity to raise any objections. Ultimately however, even if objections are raised, the Court of Appeal can still decide to go ahead.
This is an important step forward. Family cases of considerable significance are heard in the Court of Appeal.
The Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said “Every day family court judges do outstanding work making difficult decisions in highly emotive cases, often involving children. By working with the judiciary on innovative pilots such as this we are making the system as transparent as possible, with the right safeguards in place.”
It is hoped that this step towards greater transparency of the court system will increase public awareness and understanding in relation to the important role the judiciary play and the job that lawyers do. It could also go some way towards giving litigants in person (people who choose to represent themselves) a greater insight in what is involved during court proceedings.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at March 2020.