Transparency and privacy in family courts

Researchers: Dr Julie Doughty | Dr Julia Brophy

Project overview


Over several years, research has identified concerns about the privacy and safeguarding needs of children involved in court proceedings – most recently in a review of children judgments on the website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII). In addition, there are concerns about the extent to which the information that is available to the public is an accurate representation of the work of the family courts.

Guidance for judges: children judgments on Bailii website
February 2016 – June 2016  |  £16,900
Dr Julia Brophy

Evaluating the responses to, and effects of, judicial guidance on publishing family court judgments involving children and young people
April 2016 – February 2017  |  £15,164
Dr Julie Doughty

Improving anonymity

Dr Brophy’s project builds on the review of children judgments, which demonstrates how ‘geographical indicators’ and the presentation of sensitive and/or intimate information can enable young people to be identified placing some at risk of further harm.

She is investigating whether new guidance can be developed to improve anonymisation practices, without loss of key information that enables readers to understand the process and how decisions are reached by courts.

Dr Brophy is also exploring any equivalent guidance in similar jurisdictions and information data on the volume of judgments published and cost data available.

The draft guidance will be discussed at the Family Law Bar Association conference and at the President’s conference (both in May 2016).

Evaluation of responses and effects

In January 2014, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, issued guidance to judges across England and Wales to make more of their judgments publicly available on the BAILII website.

Dr Julie Doughty’s project aims to evaluate the responses to, and effects of, this guidance, after initial investigation revealed limitations and inconsistences in the way the system has operated so far. These problems include:

  • Inconsistency amongst courts in following the guidance
  • Too few judgments being published
  • Delays in sending transcripts
  • Failures to safely anonymise judgments and protect against identification
  • Different approaches to reporting restrictions
  • Difficulties in navigating the BAILII website
  • Inaccurate media stories despite access to judgments.

The project will analyse patterns in the published judgments, media coverage of the family courts, and the views of judges and other key stakeholders on public legal education and safe reporting.

Latest on this project


Team


  • Dr Julie Doughty
    Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University
  • Dr Julia Brophy
    The Association of Lawyers for Children

Explore our projects

Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
Serious-teenage-girl-gestures-as-sits-on-couch-in-school-counselor-office-Mental-health-service-provision-for-children-state-care-England-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Mental health service provision for children in state care in England

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 - 2021

Girls and women with experience of care and the criminal justice system

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

View project
Woman-carries-daughter-to-council-house-COVID-19-families-low-income-poverty-in-pandemic-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2018 - 2020

Paths to administrative justice in Wales

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2021

System conditions and welfare inequalities in children’s services

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

Looked after children grown up

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

View project
Serious-teenage-girl-gestures-as-sits-on-couch-in-school-counselor-office-Mental-health-service-provision-for-children-state-care-England-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Mental health service provision for children in state care in England

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2015 - 2018

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Family Proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The impact of Litigants in Person on the Northern Ireland court system

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2017

Transparency and privacy in family courts

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2019

Implementation of recommendations of the Carlile report

View project
In progress

Justice | 2017 - 2020

Enhancing problem-solving practice in youth court

View project
In progress

Justice | 2013 - 2019

Timely disclosures mean timely interventions for young offenders and victims

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 - 2021

Girls and women with experience of care and the criminal justice system

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

View project
Woman-carries-daughter-to-council-house-COVID-19-families-low-income-poverty-in-pandemic-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2018 - 2020

Paths to administrative justice in Wales

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2021

System conditions and welfare inequalities in children’s services

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

Looked after children grown up

View project
In progress

Justice | 2017 - 2020

The Mental Health MHTS For Scotland

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2020

Birth fathers’ recurrent appearance in care proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Visualising data in care proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Addressing the ‘care cases’ crisis: a sector-led review

View project
Reported

Justice | 2017 - 2019

Immigration judicial reviews

View project
Couple of African descent attends couples counselling to discuss finding fault in divorce
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2020

Pensions on divorce interdisciplinary working group

View project
Siblings play ball in a playground - Siblings Contact and the Law
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Siblings, contact and the law: an overlooked relationship?

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Measuring outcomes for children’s social care services

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The dissemination of lessons from research to the Judiciary

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The impact of Litigants in Person on the Northern Ireland court system

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2017

Transparency and privacy in family courts

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2019

Implementation of recommendations of the Carlile report

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2015 - 2016

Feasibility study for research into improving children’s social services

View project
Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

Profile

COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.