No5 Barrister in Landmark Case About the Secrecy of the Family Courts

Wed, 27 Jan 2010

David Lock, head of the public law team at No5 Chambers, was instructed by specialist healthcare solicitors Mills and Reeve to act for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridgeshire PCT in a landmark case concerning the circumstances in which experts in private child protection proceedings could be named and details of their evidence could be disclosed once the case had finished.
In the case of Dr A and others v Ward Lord Justice Munby examined the circumstances in which experts in child protection proceedings and treating clinicians could claim anonymity, and the circumstances in which documents from private child protection proceedings should be released into the public domain once the case was over. In departure from previous cases where the secrecy of family court hearings has been upheld, the Judge decided that the public interest favoured release of all the papers in the case and he allowed the experts called by all parties to be named. 
However he upheld the validity of an agreement between the NHS bodies and the parents that the clinical team who treated their son should not be named in public.
This case is likely to lead to details of the evidence in many more family cases being made public once the cases have been completed, and breaks open the usual expectation of permanent confidentiality of such proceedings.
The case is reported at [2010] EWHC 16 (Fam)

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