Journalists urged to act responsibly in Family Court

Journalists must balance public scrutiny with unnecessary intrusion – warns The Law

Family Courts in Cardiff, Leeds and Carlisle will allow journalists to report and quote
family members involved in the proceedings for the first time. This pilot scheme aims at
increasing transparency around issues that arise in civil courts.

Karen Dovaston, Chair of the Law Society Family Law Committee and founder of
Dovaston Law told CJS news that this will give the public “a better understating of legal
It’s hoped that this will help people settle legal disputes outside of court.
Dovaston highlighted to CJS news that journalists “often misunderstand parameters of
what you are and aren’t allowed to report in a case”.
She fears this increased freedom
could “lead to an overindulgence in gossip and a salivation over others misfortune.” She
added Journalists seeking sensationalists headlines from family law cases would
undermine the intention for public good.

Andy Elvin, CEO of foster care charity TactCare supports the scheme. Elvin echos
Dovaston’s sentimentand is cautious of the potential risks this increased freedom may
bring about. It is a commonly held view that public laws that safeguard children “require
more scrutiny”.

Media Wales’ Breaking News Editor and Media Law lecturer, Cathy Owen agrees that
“there has been a long-awaited need to transparency in the justice system”.
Owen reassured CJS News that she thinks there are still “strong enough laws in place to
make it safe for families and enable them to retain their anonymity”.