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Media access - overviewIntroduction
The family courts were opened to the media with effect from the 27 April 2009. Access is subject to stringent rules and at present access is largely focused upon allowing the media to attend hearings with restricted reporting. The President of the Family Division has issued a number of Practice Directions relating to media access. Additional access is proposed and a pilot scheme is currently in place in Leeds, Cardiff and Wolverhampton family courts.
Access to family proceedings is available only to duly accredited media representatives in the following proceedings:
all directions hearings and final hearings governed by the Family Proceedings Rules 1991
all private law and public law children hearings governed by the Family Proceedings Courts (Children Act 1989) Rules 1991
It should be noted that the new rules do not cover non-Children Act proceedings in the magistrate's courts nor any hearing ‘conducted for the purpose of judicially assisted conciliation or negotiation.
The following limitations and restrictions currently apply:
the law relating to contempt is not overridden
at any stage of the proceedings the court may direct that a media representative shall not attend the proceedings or any part of them where specific criteria are satisfied
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