The Transparency Review published last week by the President of the High Court's Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, is likely to lead to huge changes. The presumption of secrecy in family law cases involving children could be set aside to allow journalists to report on such cases and allow family members to speak to reporters.
Sir Andrew explains that these changes will reveal what goes on in family courts, and hopes that with increased scrutiny will come improved practice. It is clear that an increased understanding of the family court processes by the public, is advantageous.
However, these changes may have a negative impact on the safeguarding of the children involved in such cases whose personal and private lives could become public knowledge, leading to distress and humiliation. This is a big price to pay for transparency.
Family judges hold immense power, and society as a whole would benefit from an increased understanding of what they do, why they do it, and how this alters the course of hundreds of thousands of lives every year.