The reach and efficacy of s 121 of the Family Law Act

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The two most important manifestations of open justice are that the doors of the courts are open to members of the public and that what is seen and heard in the courtroom can be reported to the public at large by those who choose to attend. Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) qualifies the second manifestation of open justice – the right to report – by prohibiting the publication or dissemination of any information that would identify participants in proceedings under the Family Law Act. This article examines s 121 from an operational perspective with a view to evaluating its reach and its efficacy, particularly in this electronic era when anyone can be a publisher. After examining s 121 in depth and concluding that the legislation is complex and at times ambiguous, this article recommends that the time may be ripe for an in-depth examination of s 121 with a view to amending the legislation to take account of the internet and its vast and indiscriminate audience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-53
Number of pages24
JournalFamily Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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