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Sunday 21 September 2014

Decision to permit coverage welcome

Published 24/01/2013 | 05:00

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THE decision by the country's most senior family law judge to allow restricted media coverage of a landmark surrogacy action is a welcome one.

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No one, including the Irish Independent, expects the veil of secrecy to be lifted entirely in family law cases.

But it should be pierced sufficiently to enhance public confidence in the family law courts; to scrutinise the wide powers of discretion given to and the conduct of judges, and to promote proper public debate that, in turn, will lead to better informed social and legal policies in this area.

The in-camera rule was partially relaxed by the 2004 Civil Liability and Courts Act, which allowed a small class of people, other than lawyers, to attend family law proceedings and produce reports.

But journalists are excluded from the act, leaving many citizens in the dark about the operation of family law in our courts, arguably the one area of the law that has the potential to affect us all.

It is essential that our family law courts are opened up to scrutiny.

Judge Abbott's revised ruling brings us closer to that goal.

Irish Independent

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