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‘Publicity in Family Proceedings’ Panel Discussion, FLBA Annual Conference

The Indy has a short note titledCuts warning over family courts’, about the FLBA Annual Conference held in Bath yesterday with Mr Justice Coleridge supposedly linking delay in family cases with increased media access.

The story doesn’t really make any sense until you read it in conjunction with this post by Lucy Reed, family law barrister and blawger (sic) writing in her Pink Tape blog. Lucy reveals that part of the conference was in panel discussion format, entitled ‘Publicity in Family Proceedings’ , and lasted all of 60 minutes.

Don’t really feel that I can comment much more without seeing the transcript of the discussion, but suffice to say that I feel that what Mr Justice Coleridge seems to have said is most likely a supportive salvo from SOME of the judiciary into the debate around the Children, Schools and Families Bill Part 2 — Family proceedings. This Bill, under the pretence of more transparent access to courts statutorily reverses Clayton-v-Clayton, despite Jack Straw saying on This Morning on the 27th April 2009 that Clayton wouldn’t be reversed.  There is a rather long download video here and the action re Clayton-v-Clayton starts at 8:45.

If you have the time, then listen to the whole piece, as Straw not only speaks about Clayton but about an 11 year old child being forced by the Family Court to see her father. This starts at 10:25. Very telling in my view as Straw seems to suggest that given his own parent’s divorce he has sympathy with the child. He then goes on to say that family court decisions are binary and seems to have forgotten the Shared Residence option!

How I would have loved to have seen Dr Pelling on that show with Straw, but I doubt if Straw’s people would countenance that then, or now.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • McKenzie November 29, 2009, 11:26 pm


    Thanks for the comment.

    I didn’t comment on the piece about bloggers bad, journos good, as the way I understood it was no Press Card=No Entry? Are you saying that the current rules allow bloggers in but the new rules wont? Will be doing a separate post about some other comments when I get a chance. Will also do a piece about the Kirk Weir presentation as his findings are not news to those in the know 😉

    I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of the transcript for any of the sessions if they were recorded and transcribed. Can you signpost me on for that?

    I am genuinely shocked about your comments re the supposed high regard Clayton is held in by those in attendance at the FLBA, who I would take to be mostly barristers and their judicial brothers and sisters. To see why I am shocked have a look at page 21 of the consultation responses here which noted that ‘Almost all respondents agreed with our proposals to reverse the effect of Clayton v Clayton… The exceptions were the four responses from the media, five voluntary sector organisations representing adults, and one individual judge.

    Now suddenly it’s the best thing since sliced bread? I am not alone in believing that this is not about protecting the identity of children and everything to do with protecting individuals who work for organisations that are mandated to represent children but fail in their job.

  • lucy November 29, 2009, 7:08 pm

    For what it’s worth I don’t think Mr Justice Coleridge or anybody on the panel was supportive of the Bill, which was pretty much universally acknowledged to be a bit of a mess. And it was noted that the Bill appears to reverse the rule in Clayton v Clayton which was said to be the single biggest step towards transparency thus far.