Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Re Jane

Re Jane (A Child) [2010] EWHC 3221 (Fam). I don't recall a case being named like this. Jane is a fictitious name given to the child by Mr Justice Holman.

Jane's mother "has been the subject of considerable exposure in the press and media, principally, but not exclusively, as a participant in a well known television programme". I do not know who Jane's mother is, although I suspect that those with their finger on the pulse of TV celebrity may have a good idea (any comments suggesting names will not be published).

At the time of the hearing in November, Jane was the subject of an interim care order and was living with short-term foster parents. The media had taken an interest in the case, and the Daily Mail had contacted the local authority and requested that it be allowed to publish material relating to the reasons for the local authority commencing care proceedings. The local authority were very concerned to protect Jane so far as they properly could "from the damaging effects of further media intrusion into her life and upbringing", and they accordingly applied for a reporting restriction order.

The court was concerned as to whether the applicant had taken all practicable steps to notify the respondent (i.e., the media), or that there were compelling reasons why the respondent should not be notified, pursuant to s.12(2)(a) and (b) of the Human Rights Act 1998. The local authority had only given notice to the Press Association CopyDirect service. The court found that those media organisations who subscribed to CopyDirect had been notified, but that those who had chosen not to subscribe, such as Guardian Newspapers Ltd or Telegraph Group Ltd, had not, and there were no compelling reasons why they had not. Accordingly, the court was forbidden to make any injunction which bound, or in any way purported to bind, any media organisation which does not subscribe to CopyDirect.

The court then considered the extent to which the material had, or was about to, become available to the public, or it was, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published, pursuant to s.12(4) of the Human Rights Act. Mr Justice Holman found that a reporting restriction was required to protect the child, but made it clear that he was not restricting further or continuing publication in relation generally to the mother, or the further publication of any images of the child that were already in the public domain.


  1. Hi John,

    I think this is an interesting judgement, especially from the point of view of the title itself, as you mentioned.

    Perhaps the court is trying to humanise the process by removing the sometimes inanimate feel these judgments have.

    It certainly helps me to picture better that there is a real child in this scenario and allows me to engage with the case on a more emotional level, which I think is a good thing.

    It might be good to title all child cases with fictitious names from now on.... what do you think?

  2. Hi Natasha,

    Yes, it does seem to humanise the process somewhat, and also make the case easier to remember(!), although if all cases were named like this, I suppose the courts could eventually run out of unique names.

  3. Hi John,

    This is true! However, I am willing to offer the government my extensive library of baby name books.

    You know how I love my thesaurus and such ;)

  4. :-) I was assuming that 'Jane' was chosen as 'J' was the child's initial, although obviously that may not be the case.

  5. I was thinking Jane, as in Jane Doe.

  6. i think jane's mother might be scooby doo. i dare you not to publish this. you oppressor...

  7. FD: Could be.

    SW: I knew some nutjob would come on here and start naming names! You are a very bad person, and if I get into trouble for publishing your comment, I'm blaming you.


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