Carol Coulter, currently Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times, has been appointed by the Courts Service as a family law reporter to record and produce reports on family law proceedings for distribution to the media and the public. According to the press release, the appointment will be for a 12-month pilot in the first instance, to identify how information on the work of the Family Law Courts can be best disseminated to the Judiciary, the wider legal community, the media and the general public.
The importance of this enlightened appointment cannot be overstated. According to Art 34.1 of the Constitution, justice is to be administered in public, except in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law. Although s45(1) of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961 provides that justice may be administered otherwise than in public in family law matters, this is neither an impregnable wall of silence nor an impenetrable veil of secrecy, nor ought it to be. Better information to the public and the legal profession can be achieved with due regard to the delicacies attendant upon reporting about such delicate issues. I wish Carol all the very best in her new, and crucial, appointment.