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Harnessing transparency in the family courts as a power for good?

A specialist professional development day for social workers and managers examining the dilemmas and benefits for social workers of more openness in family court proceedings and experiences of professionals and families.

Designed and delivered by

  • Lucy Reed, family barrister and chair of the Transparency Project
  • Louise Tickle, award-winning journalist writing on family law

Facilitated by Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive, British Association of Social Workers

In addition to exploring the pros and cons of greater openness in family law, this workshop will aim to foster a better grasp of the pressures facing social workers, family lawyers and journalists as each profession grapples with what transparency means for them. The tension between privacy and the need for accountability and openness is always difficult to manage and fact specific – this course will encourage practitioners to be open, creative and responsive to those competing issues when they arise.

The course will use a combination of presentation, worked examples, group work and discussion.

Content will include:

  • Transparency in family cases: what is it and do we want more of it?
  • Balancing human rights: freedom of expression v private and family life.
  • Open and honest? The risks and rewards of greater transparency in care proceedings and family court hearings.
  • A journalist comes to court…
  • Ethics and transparency
  • How transparency could help lawyers and social workers do their job better

Who is this programme for?

  • Social workers and social work managers/leaders with experience or knowledge of the family courts system
  • PCF level: relevant to all levels from social worker to strategic
  • Non-social worker professionals with considerable experience in working in family courts with social workers and others
  • Practitioners from England and Wales

Group size:    20


By the end of the day, participants will have:

  • A deeper understanding of what transparency around child protection social work and family courts could look like.
  • Examined the balance between competing human rights: freedom of expression, right to a fair trial and the right to private life, when it comes to opening up family court procedures and outcomes to greater scrutiny
  • Considered the potential risks and rewards of greater transparency in care proceedings and family court hearings for all parties such as children and families, professionals, public authorities, the court system, the public and press.
  • Feel more confident in dealing with transparency issues when they arise in your practice.

Lunch, refreshments and course materials provided


Lucy Reed is a specialist family law barrister with a particular emphasis on children work. She is the author of the acclaimed Pink Tape blog, chairs the educational charity The Transparency Project, is the author of The Family Court Without a Lawyer – A Handbook for Litigants in Person (3rd Edition, Bath Publishing, 2018) and co-wrote Transparency in the Family Courts: Publicity and Privacy in Practice (Bloomsbury, 2018). Lucy often acts in public law children cases where she acts for all parties, and in complex, multi-party or high conflict intractable private law disputes. Lucy is also a Deputy District Judge. She regularly delivers lectures and workshops to lawyers, social workers and others. Lucy tweets at @familoo

Louise Tickle is a multi award-winning journalist and commentator with a specialist interest in family courts. She works as a consultant on social affairs documentaries, and is a regular and longstanding contributor to the Guardian as well as writing for The Times and Family Law. She was awarded the 2016 Bar Council Legal Reporting Award, and the same year was shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Journalism for a body of work investigating failings in the care system, legal aid cuts and the plight of unaccompanied child refugees. She is a committee member of The Transparency Project and speaks regularly on the issues raised by calls for greater openness in the family courts. She tweets at @louisetickle


Ruth Allen is the Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers, the professional association for social work and social workers across the UK.

Early-bird 10% discount available until 24 September 2018