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Press to gain increased access to Court of Protection

Pilot will also be used to gauge whether access should only be granted to reporters and not the public

19 November 2015

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The Court of Protection (CoP) will begin a pilot scheme at the start of 2016, giving the media and the public greater access to cases being heard in the court.

Hearings will be heard in public but the court will place an anonymity order on the reporting of any names, in order to protect the identity of the parties' involved.

The family courts were opened up to the public via a pilot scheme in 2009 and have remained open since. Parties involved in a hearing going through the family courts can request an anonymity order to prevent their identities being revealed.

Given the success this has had, Sir James Munby, head of the Family Division and President of the CoP, is keen to replicate the informative benefits of transparency.

'For the last six years accredited media have been able to attend Family Court cases and have been better informed about the work of the Family Court as a result', he said.

'It is logical to look at extending this greater transparency to the Court of Protection, provided the right balance can be struck to safeguard the privacy of people who lack capacity to make their own decisions.'

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service will also aid transparency by amending the way court lists are displayed. They will now include a short description of what the case being heard is about.

Mr Justice Charles, Vice President of the CoP, has also endorsed the move towards a more open court process.

'I support a move towards more public hearings to promote a wider understanding of the work and approach of the Court of Protection and the improvement of the performance of the court and those who appear in it.

'I am aware that others hold different views on whether hearings should generally be in public and hope that the pilot will provide useful evidence to weigh the rival arguments.'

The scheme will also be used to test whether it will be better to grant access only to the media and not the public.

 

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