Me & my colleagues over at the Transparency Project have been discussing the vexed issue of transcripts of family court judgments NOT being published on Bailii and Paul McGrath has written about our project to research into this.
I would love to hear about your experiences which I could then pass on to the TP team.
For example, can you get legal aid to contribute to the costs of transcripts? If so, how much trouble do you have to go to? What arguments do the Legal Aid Agency try to use as reasons for refusing to cover the costs?
How often do your local judges publish transcripts? How common is it for the local authority to be fixed with the costs of transcription? What sort of arguments get used to avoid paying? eg the local authority usually only pays for a transcript if there might be other children or some particular need for practitioners to have the full judgment in future (with no reference to the child’s need in later life to understand what happened?). What puts you off asking for a transcript and publication (eg the fact that you lost and / or the Judge was not very nice about you, your client or the conduct of the case?
I’ve certainly had a case recently where I had a transcript – which I think the LA were asked to pay for – which did not paint a good picture of the LA’s conduct but which never got published. I was not going to push for it because my client would not have wanted it published but I was slightly surprised that the other parties did not ask.
I am certainly heading in the direction of concluding that it must be a general rule that transcripts are obtained and published because otherwise those who don’t particularly want the oxygen of publicity will be tempted to let the sleeping dogs lie.