Getting a divorce is never a pleasant experience, but it could also become a very public one in the UK, as legal proceedings are set to be livestreamed online.
The country’s Court of Appeal will stream family hearings – which include certain divorce cases and child social care proceedings – online in an attempt to improve the public’s understanding of the legal system, the Ministry of Justice said Thursday.
The court deals with appeals from other courts and tribunals and is the highest court within the senior courts of England and Wales.
The legal proceedings will be broadcast on the official judiciary website, as well as on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the first hearing is expected later in the year.
Cases with reporting restrictions will not be shown, and cases will be streamed with a 90-second time delay, meaning judges and court staff could halt broadcasting if needed, the ministry said.
The plan to broadcast family hearings follows a 2018 pilot project, in which some civil cases were livestreamed.
Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls (head of the country’s civil justice system), and Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division, said in a statement that it was “only right” that cases of public importance were open to the public, giving examples including Islamic faith marriage, access to fertility records and cases involving transgender identity.
“We are of course mindful that in some cases, full public access would not be appropriate, we will ensure that those involved in such cases remain protected,” they said in a joint statement.
Officials added that anonymity could be awarded in sensitive cases, and that participants would be warned beforehand and given the opportunity to raise objections.