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The government and senior members of the judiciary are to ‘bring the public gallery into the 21st century’ as part of new plans to livestream family court cases following a pilot scheme launched in 2018.
The scheme notably included the broadcast of the Heathrow airport expansion appeal and has been deemed a success by prominent members of the government and judiciary.
The first family case is due to be broadcast on the judiciary’s website this year, as well as on social media sites. It is understood that cases with reporting restrictions will not be broadcast, and the camera will be focused on the Judge with only minimal sight of lawyers, but witnesses and the parties themselves will not appear on screen.
Safeguarding measures will be in place including a delay to the live-stream, giving judges the ability to halt the broadcasting immediately if necessary.
The government hopes that the broadcasting of family cases will help to increase public understanding and transparency within the family courts.
Justice Secretary and 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.’
Parties are written to ahead of the live stream to inform them they have been selected and to give parties the chance to raise any objections, either by phone or in writing.
Sources: lawgazette.co.uk, 13 March 2020, ‘Family cases to be livestreamed in Court of Appeal’, gov.uk, 12 March 2020, ‘Court of Appeal to live-stream family cases’.