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Woolley & Co latest 

Family courts open to the Press

Family court hearings are for the first time to be open to the press it was announced by Jack Straw earlier this week (Dec. 2008). From April, accredited media will be allowed to report hearings, unless the child’s welfare requires them not to be admitted, he said.

Adoption proceedings will however not be open.

In making the announcement Jack Straw said the change ‘strikes the right balance in providing a more open, transparent and accountable system, while protecting children or families during a difficult and traumatic time in their lives’.

Managing Partner, Andrew Woolley commented; “At Woolley & Co we have always tried to remove the mystery from legal proceedings by using plain English with clients and publishing detailed guides to divorce and family law.

“The more openness there is in the system and about family law, the better. These changes may enable people to see that Courts generally do a very good job in dealing with very difficult cases and with people who are, understandably, not at their best and often highly emotional.

“The problem in our view rests not with the Courts being open to the press but with the potential for sensationalism and scandal that could result. Some of the cases dealt with by the family Courts can involve very personal and often distressing details - thus no doubt highly likely to sell newspapers. Our worry is that these 10% of cases may be the only ones reported.

“We support anything that helps make things understandable and not so daunting for the public but that should mean reporting the average case too - not just the salacious ones. Will that happen? I doubt it”

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