Keep family law private, says solicitor

June 24, 2009

Family law solicitor William Edwards has criticised government changes which are supposed to open up family courts to the scrutiny of the Press and has vowed to fight to try and stop them.

The new rules state that, unless specifically excluded by a judge, accredited journalists can attend custody, care and divorce proceedings. Until now, these proceedings have generally been held in private.

Mr Edwards, who is based in Midsomer Norton, said: “It is essential that the public has total confidence in the courts that deal with family law.

“However, there is also the necessity to protect the identity of children, which is why, until now, proceedings concerning children have generally been held in private.

“The new rules may well allow a journalist to go into a family court. However, the rules also state that they are not allowed to report on what they actually hear in court.
“A cynic may claim that the new rules supposedly put in place to make family law courts ‘less secret’ are no more than a sop to pressure groups. In reality, they change nothing.”

Mr Edwards, who is head of family law at Thatcher & Hallam, is also a member of both the Law Society’s family law panel and the specialist family lawyers’ organisation Resolution.

He says he will not be giving up in his quest to obtain real reform of the law.

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