A legal charity has this week unveiled a new campaign to tackle some of the misconceptions that can arise as a result of inaccurate reporting of family law cases.
The Transparency Project has launched Family Court Reporting Watch, monitoring press coverage of divorce proceedings and other related areas of the law.
The charity is concerned about the problems that inaccurate or misleading articles may have on people’s perceptions.
It hopes to build a positive relationship with the media and will encourage news organisations to publish corrections or link to primary sources if it believes that certain reports paint an inaccurate picture.
The organisation also welcomes comments from the public about cases they have read either in newspapers or online and found either “surprising or confusing.”
Lucy Reed, who chairs the charity, said: “Family law is generally poorly understood by the public (and the media).
“Because family courts operate largely in private, media reports about them are an important route through which the public acquire their understanding of family law and procedure (along with the internet) – they cannot attend court in the way that is possible in other areas.
“However, much mainstream news and media reporting of family court cases is legally confused, factually highly selective or inaccurate. Although many judgments are publicly available, only cases with certain “newsworthy” characteristics reach the attention of the media.”
The Transparency Project was set up two years ago amid wider concerns that public understanding of the way family courts operate was often lacking.
The charity is comprised of interested parties including practising lawyers, academics, social workers, publishers and writers.