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In camera rule and its effect on practice

In camera is a Latin phrase meaning “in chambers” (referring to the judge’s chambers). It means that the case will be heard in private and members of the public are not allowed to attend. Almost all family law cases are subject to this rule. Section 34 of the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 applies the in camera rule to all judicial separation proceedings.

In general neither you, a client, nor any other person can tell anyone not directly involved in  Court proceedings anything about what occurred at the court hearing which was held in private. Solicitors must ensure that clients are aware of what the in camera rule means for them and that they cannot talk about what has happened in court to anyone not affected by the proceedings.

Problems arose with the operation of the in camera rule in family law cases. In 2013 the Oireachtas amended the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to address some of these problems.