Appleton v Gallagher (High Court) Clare Curran, Partner in charge of the Matrimonial Department in Worthingtons Solicitors considers the recent Judgment of Mostyn J addressing the Media Reporting of Financial Cases on Divorce.
Go Let It Out!
Following a previous Judgement in DL v SL (2015) EWHC 2621, Learned High Court Judge Mostyn confirmed his view that media reporting of financial remedy proceedings, or Ancillary Relief hearings (those cases which come to court to resolve outstanding finances between divorcing couples) should be restricted and such cases heard in private. He considered that this was the intention of Parliament, when drafting the Family Procedure Rules in 2009, which essentially amended the law to allow journalists to attend a hearing held in private but without access to the court documents.
In cases involving famous parties, (in this particular case, proceedings were taking place between rock star Liam Gallagher and his estranged wife and former pop star Nicole Appleton following the breakdown of their 6 year marriage) the Judge concluded that their identities and the fact that the Financial Remedy Proceedings are taking place may be reported, as well as some other limited information about the case, as this information was already in the public domain.
In reaching his conclusion Mostyn J considered that the intention of the change to the rules in 2009, which allowed the media access to family law proceedings, was so that the public would gain a greater understanding regarding how children law cases, in particular Care Order proceedings, which frequently involve the removal of children from their parents due to concerns about their welfare, are conducted and decided. As such, the media’s role in reporting such cases was very much as a ‘watchdog.’
In considering the current case, however, the Learned Judge went on to comment that Financial Remedy Proceedings are not ‘children proceedings’ within the meaning of those Rules, unless they pertain mainly to the maintenance of a child. Therefore in these types of cases, the court has the power to restrict reporting, without further reference to the High Court, as would be required in Children Law Proceedings.
Mostyn J gave The Sun Newspaper leave to appeal his order prohibiting the naming of any children and reference to any financial information, unless that information was indeed already public. When doing so, he called upon the Appeal court to provide guidance about the hearing of Financial Remedy Proceedings in public, as there has been a divergence in the approach taken by the Judiciary in this regard.
It remains to be seen what approach the Court of Appeal will give in respect of these issues upon determination of that application in due course.