New Guidance for Local Courts on Transparency in Family Justice


His Honour Judge Bellamy expresses his views on secrecy in the family courts and the campaign efforts to open proceedings to scrutiny. Within this, he also issues a practice note to the local court in Leicester, setting out considerations for the publishing of judgments.

The main points of that guidance are listed below:

  1. The decision to give permission for a judgment to be published is a judicial decision. It is a decision that can be appealed.[1]
  2. Whether or not the judgment is one which the Guidance indicates should normally be published, if the judge considers it appropriate to give permission to publish then the parties should be informed at the time the judgment is handed down.
  3. If the judgment has been prepared in anonymised format, the parties are under a duty to draw the court’s attention to any perceived inadequacy in the anonymisation. This is a process which requires careful attention to detail. The court should set a time limit within which any points about the anonymisation of the judgment should be made.
  4. If the judge indicates that she proposes to give permission for the judgment to be published it is open to a party to seek to persuade the court that upon a proper application of the ‘ultimate balancing test’ permission should not be granted.
  5. If advocates need time to martial their arguments with respect to the question of publication they should ask the judge for a short adjournment to enable submissions to be prepared.
  6. Submissions must be focussed on the competing Article 8 and Article 10 rights that are engaged and on the ‘ultimate balancing test’ which the court is required to undertake. It is not sufficient, for example, simply to state that a party does not agree to the judgment being published.
  7. If, having considered the submissions, the judge remains of the opinion that permission to publish that judgment should be granted and the party opposing publication wishes to appeal against that decision then a request should be made to the judge for permission to appeal and for a stay pending the hearing of the appeal.

[1] See Re C (Publication of Judgment) [2015] EWCA Civ 500 (click to download)

To download the full guidance, click the link below:

Practice Note: Transparency in the Family Court at Leicester