Since 2004, when the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee suggested greater transparency was required in the family courts, much time has been expended debating the merits of opening up the family courts. The law has been amended to permit accredited media representatives to attend Children Act 1989 proceedings. In Children Act proceedings, where children and families risk permanent separation, there are strong arguments for greater transparency of judicial decision-making. However, the children involved in these proceedings are also afforded rights to privacy by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Children Act proceedings, which are either instituted by adult family members or by the state, children do not choose to become involved in court proceedings. There are particularly strong reasons for protecting children's privacy. Where consultations have sought children's views, children have expressed concern about media attendance at court and resulting interference with their privacy. This article considers the tensions between openness and privacy in Children Act proceedings. It discusses the current legal provisions. In light of suggestions that many children are unaware of the possibility of the media attending proceedings concerning them or are otherwise unable to object to such attendance, it explores how children participate in court proceedings relating to them. It concludes that the real issue is not how children object to interferences into their private lives, but how we afford transparency without interfering with privacy at all.
|Journal||Contemporary Issues in Law|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|