The Court of Protection will be opened up to the media and public from the start of next year under a pilot scheme announced today.
The six-month scheme will test whether cases in future will be heard in public, private or just be opened up to the media.
Under the scheme the court will hold most hearings in public, making an anonymity order to protect those involved. Previously, with rare exceptions, cases have been heard in private with only those directly involved in the case attending.
Officials said the scheme would bring greater transparency, while still protecting the privacy of those involved.
Sir James Munby (pictured), president of the court, 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.’
‘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. 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.’
Mr Justice Charles, vice president of the court, said he supported a move towards more public hearings to improve the court's performance, but added that he understood that others felt differently. ’I hope that the pilot will provide useful evidence to weigh the rival arguments,’ he said.
The pilot will run in all the regions where the court sits from January 2016 for six month, with a possibility of extension.
During this time court lists will be amended so that they provide a short description of what the case is about, to help the public and media decide whether to attend a hearing.