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Secrecy surrounding Family Court to end (17 January 2014)

Date: 17/01/2014
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Secrecy surrounding Family Court to end

The Family Courts are to be opened up to public scrutiny, with Family Courts and Court of Protection judgments being made public for the first time.

The secrecy surrounding the Family Division of the Courts has often been criticised – and recent high-profile cases have highlighted the issue of secrecy.

A recent case involved an Italian woman with mental health issues who was forced to undergo a Caesarean section so that social services could take her newborn baby into care.

The Family Court and Court of Protection involve care decisions made regarding children, the elderly and vulnerable people, such as those with severe brain injury who are unable to act for themselves.

Hearings of the Family Court and Court of Protection are secret and decisions are not usually made public.

New rules announced on Wednesday (15/01/14) mean that councils which take children into Local Authority care – or which make decisions about care of the elderly or vulnerable people will have to make their decisions public.

Social workers acting as expert witnesses will also have their names made public.

Anyone who is accused of wrongdoing in a case of Local Authority care or Court of Protection will also have their details made public.

Secrecy was previously attributed to the need to protect the privacy of the individual at the centre of cases in the Family Courts or Court of Protection. However, President of the Family Division of the Courts, Sir James Munby, has said judgments must now be made public unless there are “compelling reasons” why they should remain private, such as individuals involved in family disputes.

The landmark decision ends 100 years of secrecy in the Family Division of the Courts.

Duncan Lewis Family and Childcare Solicitors

Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of family and childcare solicitors and can advise on children taken into Local Authority care and Court of Protection.

Duncan Lewis family solicitors can also advise on divorce, child contact and residence, ancillary relief payments, domestic violence and international child abduction.

Duncan Lewis is also a leading Legal Aid solicitor.

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