Courts Service Website - www.courts.ie
Date: 5 October 2006
Appointment of Family Law Reporter
Four Courts Dublin Thursday October 5th 2006: The Courts Service appoints a family law reporter to record and produce reports on family law proceedings for distribution to the media and the public.
The Courts Service has appointed a family law recorder on a one year pilot basis. The project will record and create reports of family law proceedings for the first time; will gather, assess and present meaningful statistics on family law matters before the courts; and will assemble and distribute information regarding the family law process and courts. Following public advertisements, proposals for provision of the service went through an evaluation process.
The Family Law Reporter
The evaluation committee recommended that Dr. Carol Coulter be awarded thec ontract. Dr. Coulter has now accepted the contract and will commence the pilot project in mid-October. Dr Coulter - BA (Mod) TCD, PhD, TCD and Dip Legal Studies, DIT - has worked for the past 20 years for The Irish Times and has worked as its Legal Affairs Correspondent for the last seven years, writing extensively on family law matters. In 2001 she was awarded the Law Society's Justice Media Award in print journalism for writing on family law, and in 1990 she won National Media Award for campaigning journalism for her coverage of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four miscarriages of justice. She has also written a number of books and essays on cultural and social issues, and edited the Undercurrents Series of pamphlets on current issues for Cork University Press. She is married and has one son.D r. Coulter will work exclusively with the Courts Service and will be on leave of absence from her duties as Legal Affairs Correspondent with The Irish Times.
Background to Project
In 2000 the Courts Service decided to implement a pilot project to provide information for judges, legal practitioners, researchers, the media and the public on family law proceedings. Legal advice at the time strongly suggested that without enabling legislation the service should not proceed with the project. Enabling legislation has been enacted by way of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. This Act allows for the reporting and the dissemination of information on family law proceedings subject to very strict conditions to protect the identity of individuals involved in family law litigation. The Courts Service, following a recommendation from the Family Law Court Development Committee, decided to recommence the pilot project -reportings ervice on a pilot basis for a 12 month initial period.
The Work of the Family Law Reporter
The pilot project will concentrate on identifying how information on thework of the Family Law Courts can be best disseminated to the Judiciary, the wider legal community, the media and the general public. This will involve:
- reporting significant judgments and decisions of the High, Circuit and District Family Law Courts.
- the compilation of statistical information relating to the work of theFamily Law Courts.
- the drafting and distribution of family law information for publication for use to inform the general public.
Welcoming the appointment of the Family Law Reporter the Chief Executive Officer of the Courts Service Mr. P.J. Fitzpatrick said, "this appointment is very welcome not only because it will aid the Courts Service inf ulfilling our mandate of providing information on the courts system to the public, but it will also open up a much debated area of the work of the courts through balanced reporting - whilst maintaining the privacy of those involved in Family Law Proceedings".
"I welcome Carol Coulter to the position, as she is an experienced legal affairs reporter and a person who has shown the balance and work ethic needed for such a position to develop and deliver the information on the area of family law, so much sought by the media and the public".