A scheme started earlier this year – with the aim of improving public understanding of the Court of Protection – has been given a 12 month extension.
A decision had been taken at the tail end of last year to provide both the press and wider public with greater access to Court of Protection hearings – which are required to make decisions on behalf of those who lack the capacity to do so.
The strategy, which was backed by senior Judges, was seen as a direct response to claims that too many important decisions about individuals’ welfare were being taken behind closed doors.
In an effort to dispel the notion there was “a veil of secrecy” around the matters that the court was asked to consider, it was agreed that hearings would normally be heard in public.
In order to ensure that the privacy of individuals was still respected, it was confirmed that anonymity orders would be put in place to ensure that journalists’ reports did not identify the parties involved.
There had also been warnings that the pilot could be brought to an abrupt end if members of the judiciary feared that the media were acting irresponsibly in their coverage.
This month however, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service agreed to extend the scheme which had started in January until August 2017.
At the end of the pilot period, a decision will be taken on whether to make the new arrangements permanent, revert to the stricter rules or devise a system somewhere between the two approaches.