Family court reporting: FAQ

These answers are applicable only to the pilot areas.

Only journalists who hold a recognised press card issued by the UK Press Card Authority are entitled a) to attend most types of family court hearing, and b) report under the pilot. Judges have the discretion to allow journalists without a recognised press card to attend court, but may be reluctant to do so. You will not be permitted to report under the pilot rules if you do not have a recognised press card.


Yes, as long as you do not identify family members, and any other protected party or interviewee, and the contents of any quote do not breach the terms of the transparency order made in this particular case and subject to your own relevant editorial code.

You are allowed to have access to certain documents, and you are allowed to quote from them, as long as you observe the anonymity provisions in the transparency order. You should not quote from any document or publish information until the transparency order has been approved.

Journalists with recognised press accreditation from the UK Press Card Authority are entitled to attend and report on most family hearings. Please refer to the rules (Family Procedure Rule 27.11 and PD27B) for full information.

There is no requirement for a journalist to give notice to the court, lawyers or parties in advance of attending any family hearing they are entitled to attend. Pressure of time for a reporter sent to court at the last minute may even make doing so impossible. However, as this reporting pilot is new, judges have indicated that it would be greatly appreciated if reporters could send a message to the relevant pilot court the day before, or even on the day of the hearing in question, as a courtesy. This will help the legal professionals dealing with sensitive and distressing family cases to ensure the pilot runs as smoothly as possible for reporters and parties alike.

The judge will be aware that a reporter is in court, and should invite you to speak at the end of the hearing with any comment you wish to make about the transparency order or proposals on additional restrictions. If that invitation is not extended at the end of the hearing, stand up and make it clear that you wish to address the judge. You may need to wait for a convenient moment to do so. If you are attending remotely, use the “raise hand” icon in the first instance. If the judge doesn’t come to you, turn on your microphone and introduce yourself.

There may also be instances where questions of what is reportable are discussed during the hearing. If matters are raised that could affect your ability to report the story in the way you want, you will almost certainly be invited to speak. If this doesn’t happen, stand up and say you would like to address the court. Be prepared to be asked to wait until the end of the hearing, when your points can be more fully heard and addressed.

It is perfectly possible that further restrictions may be sought. This should solely be to protect the anonymity of the child and their family members or carers. Anonymity should not generally be sought for the sake of the reputation of any public authority, or any other reason. Argument and reasons must be advanced by those seeking further restrictions, with evidence for how a particular piece of information might realistically identify a child or family member.

You may be asked to set out your view as to the proposed restrictions in court, or the judge may adjourn so that you and the parties’ lawyers (or parties themselves, if unrepresented) can discuss the matter before the hearing resumes and the judge either makes an order by agreement, or listens to oral argument from everyone, including the media.

You should do. Either the judge, or more likely one of the lawyers in the case, should email you a draft version of the transparency order. It is important to read this quickly but carefully. Everyone’s comments are needed as soon as possible so the order can be sent to the judge for sealing. Check if it accurately reflects your understanding of what was said during the hearing, and any restrictions agreed or imposed. If it doesn’t, email the person who sent it to you, setting out what you thought the judge had ordered. Has anything been missed out? If so, say so as soon as possible.

If you have not received the draft transparency order by the end of the day of the hearing, email the person who took responsibility in court for drafting the order to let them know.

Yes, – unless the judge orders otherwise – as long as your reporting is accurate and abides strictly by the anonymity provisions contained in the transparency order, including any additional restrictions imposed in the particular case you attended.

Yes – unless the judge orders otherwise – as long as family members’ anonymity is protected in line with provisions in the transparency order.

Yes – unless the judge orders otherwise – as long as any reporting only takes place after the transparency order is made, and is in line with its terms (ie it is anonymised).

Yes, unless the judge orders otherwise.

Yes, unless the judge orders otherwise.

No, unless the judge orders otherwise. You can say that a Cafcass guardian represented the child.

Yes, unless the judge orders otherwise.

Find out more

Why reporting on family justice matters
What the new guidance says

How to preserve anonymity

Communicating with family members

Interacting with lawyers

What to think about before you arrive in court

Information for family members

Information for lawyers

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With thanks to: Rights of Women, Lucy Reed

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