Spotlight
Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Spotlight
Latest articles
Hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide fall victims to hackers every year. Is your firm one of them?
SPONSORED CONTENT Image source: Information is beautifulYou and other lawyers and legal assistants in your firm likely have accounts on the hacked websites listed in the image above. If a hacker...
New complaints handling guide offers advice to local authorities
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is today issuing new guidance on effective complaint handling for local authorities.Based on previous documents, the new guide offers practical,...
EU laws continue until at least 2038 and beyond
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  But in matters of law it fully leaves on 31 December 2020.  But EU laws will continue to apply, and be applied, in the English family courts from 1...
Family Law Awards winners announced in virtual awards ceremony
The winners of the Family Law Awards 2020 were announced at 4pm during a much-anticipated virtual awards ceremony. Over the past ten years, the Family Law Awards has recognised the leading players in...
Behaviour-based divorces still merit close consideration
Some recent cases illustrate the evidential and procedural issues involved in dealing with proofs on the merits of divorce, which are worth considering even though most cases may conclude on a...
View all articles
Authors

Reporting restrictions in financial remedy proceedings: a review after case management in Cooper-Hohn v Hohn

Sep 29, 2018, 22:01 PM
Cooper-Hohn, Hohn, financial remedy proceedings, media restrictions, publicity, case management
The careful judgement of Roberts J in Cooper-Hohn v Hohn [2014] EWHC 2314 (Fam) prompts thoughts on publicity in financial remedy proceedings.
Slug : reporting-restrictions-in-financial-remedy-proceedings-a-review-after-case-management-in-cooper-hohn-v-hohn
Meta Title : Reporting restrictions in financial remedy proceedings: a review after case management in Cooper-Hohn v Hohn
Meta Keywords : Cooper-Hohn, Hohn, financial remedy proceedings, media restrictions, publicity, case management
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Aug 6, 2014, 03:22 AM
Article ID : 106653
The careful judgement of Roberts J in  Cooper-Hohn v Hohn [2014] EWHC 2314 (Fam) prompts thoughts on publicity in financial remedy proceedings. The judge found herself required to give an ‘essentially a case management’ decision in a substantial money case where ‘accredited members of the press have been present, as they are fully entitled to be’ (FPR 2010, r 27.11(2)(f)). The question for her was: ‘[2] ... the extent to which [the press] should be able to report an account of the proceedings as they unfold on a daily basis and whether there is any restriction on their ability to do so.’ The press were separately represented (though this is not clear from the Bailii headnote) and application was made for reporting restrictions to be lifted.

Roberts J refused to impose full reporting restrictions (as Mr Hohn wanted) but restricted the press on terms as follows (para [98] of her judgement):

'The media shall be prohibited from publishing any such report that refers to or concerns any of the parties' financial information whether of a personal or business nature including, but not limited to, that contained in their voluntary disclosure, answers to questionnaire provided in solicitors' correspondence, in their witness statements, in their oral evidence or referred to in submissions made on their behalf, whether in writing or orally, save to the extent that any such information is already in the public domain.'
Roberts J describes her job (at para [61]) on reporting restrictions as ‘to find a way through somewhat rocky terrain where, as everybody appears to agree, there is no clear roadmap’. She concluded – looking at her decision through the prism of European Convention 1950 Art 8 (respect for private life) and 10 (press freedom); and perhaps Art 6(1) (right to a fair trial; administration of justice) – that she should make the restriction order (above). She resolved the parties and the press’s Convention rights as follows (at para [176]):

'I find that the balance between the right of the media to freedom of expression and their ability to report to the public at large, and the right of the husband and wife to respect for their private and family life, in so far as it relates to the detail of their finances, weighed together with the overarching principle of open justice and the implied undertaking as to confidentiality, falls firmly in favour of privacy in relation to financial matters being maintained.'
This note is an attempt to provide a guide through the ‘rocky terrain’ – limited to financial remedy proceedings – for what ultimately is a matter of judicial discretion based on the common law and a European Convention 1950 proportionality balance. It involves a separation of family proceedings into: (1) those governed solely by the common law (civil proceedings and a minority of family proceedings); (2) financial remedy proceedings; and (3) proceedings governed by Administration of Justice Act 1960, s 12(1) (‘AJA 1960’: children proceedings: their welfare, maintenance and upbringing). Most aspects of (2) are subsumed in principles derived from (1); and children issues under AJA 1960, s 12(1) are likely to be rare in financial remedy proceedings.

Common law: open court

The starting point is the common law rule that all proceedings should be in public ( Scott & Anor v Scott [1913] UKHL 2, [1913] AC 417 where contempt committal orders for publication of nullity proceedings were set aside by the House of Lords). Publication on its own is not to be punished ‘unless it can be established to the satisfaction of the court to whom the application is made that the publication constitutes an interference with the administration of justice either in the particular case to which the publication relates or generally’ said Lord Scarman in Attorney General v Leveller Magazine Ltd [1979] AC 440 at 469.This position is reflected in European Convention 1950 Art 6(1), which states that: ‘In a determination of his civil rights and obligations … everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing …’. CPR 1998, r 39.2(1) asserts: ‘The general rule is that a hearing is to be in public’.

This ‘open justice principle’ and its place in the common law was explained by Toulson LJ in R (ota Guardian News and Media Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates' Court [2012] EWCA Civ 420, [2013] QB 618, at para [69] as:

'The open justice principle is a constitutional principle to be found not in a written text but in the common law. It is for the courts to determine its requirements, subject to any statutory provision. It follows that the courts have an inherent jurisdiction to determine how the principle should be applied.'
Family proceedings hearings ‘in private’

Confusion in proceedings covered by FPR 2010 arises from the fact that FPR 2010, r 27.10(1) asserts that all proceedings under FPR 2010 shall be held ‘in private’. This suggests that there is a presumption of privacy for family hearings. The common law and Convention jurisprudence provides the opposite. Privacy must be justified: Scott v Scott; Attorney General v Leveller (above), save in proceedings to which AJA 1960, s 12 applies. Nor is it clear on what underlying legal principle, statute or common law, the rule-makers derive their rules on attendance at private hearings (FPR 2010, r 27.11), especially of the press (‘accredited representatives of news gathering and reporting organisations’: r 27.11(1)(f)).

If tested it seems unlikely that FPR 2010, rr 27.10 and 27.11 would be found to be intra vires any established principle of law or Convention principle. Convention jurisprudence which is the starting point for any restraint on publicity ( Re S (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) [2004] UKHL 47, [2005] 1 FLR 591 per Lord Steyn at para [23]). Of the status of rules as law: rules ‘cannot extend the jurisdiction of the court from that which the law provides, but can only give directions as to how the existing jurisdiction should be exercised’ ( Jaffray v The Society of Lloyds [2007] EWCA Civ 586, per Buxton LJ at [8]).

When in contempt of court?

This note therefore proceeds on the basis that, other than in proceedings covered by AJA 1960, s 12, any restriction of publicity, whether as to attendance at a hearing or of the reporting of a hearing, must be justified in law. Exceptions set up by the common law relate to the hearing of proceedings and, separately, to the documents in those proceedings and their ‘use’. These exceptions are set out in CPR 1998, rr 39.2(3) and 31.22(1). The first rule provides that a hearing may be partly or entirely in private where, for example, ‘publicity would defeat the object of the hearing’ (r 39.2(3)(a); see eg the Leveller Magazine case (above)); the case ‘involves confidential information (including information relating to personal financial matters) and publicity would damage that confidentiality’ (r 39.2(3)(c)) which might have applied in Cooper-Hohn); and ‘the court considers this to be necessary, in the interests of justice’ (r 39.2(3)(g)).

A separate jurisdiction also arises from the question of whether documents in proceedings may be further ‘used’ by parties or others; though the principles on which the court decides ‘use’ questions and the publication of proceedings overlap. CPR 1998, r 31.22 provides:

(1) A party to whom a document has been disclosed may use the document only for the purpose of the proceedings in which it is disclosed, except where –
(a) the document has been read to or by the court, or referred to, at a hearing which has been held in public;
(b) the court gives permission; or
(c) the party who disclosed the document and the person to whom the document belongs agree.
(2) The court may make an order restricting or prohibiting the use of a document which has been disclosed, even where the document has been read to or by the court, or referred to, at a hearing which has been held in public.
There is no equivalent to rr 39.2 or 31.22 in FPR 2010. The court has a separate power to restrict the use of parties’ names (CPR 1998, r 39.2(4) which was at issue in eg W v M (TOLATA Proceedings: Anonymity) [2012] EWHC 1679 (Fam), [2013] 1 FLR 1513, Mostyn J.)

Publicity in financial remedy proceedings

Issues of publicity for a hearing or of documents therefore arise in financial remedy proceedings in the following contexts:

  1. Whether there should be any restriction on the open court principle (ie full publicity) for financial proceedings (r 39.2(3));
  2. Whether a document made available as part of the court disclosure process should be permitted to be ‘used’ separately from the proceedings (r 31.22(1)(b));
  3. Whether such a document has been referred to in open court proceedings (r 31.22(1)(a)); or
  4. Even if (3) applies, whether a party can be restrained from use of the document.
The comment of Stanley Burnton LJ in Lykiardopulo v Lykiardopulo[2010] EWCA Civ 1315, [2011] 1 FLR 1427, at para [76] provides a starting point:

'Parties to a matrimonial dispute who bring before the Court the facts and documents relating to their financial affairs may in general be assured that the confidentiality of that information will be respected. They are required by the Court to produce the information and documents, and it is a general principle, applicable to both civil and family proceedings, that confidential information produced by those who are compelled to do so will remain so unless and until it passes into the public domain. That confidence will in an appropriate case be protected by the anonymisation of any reported judgment.'
Reporting of hearings in open court

CPR 1998, r 39.2(3) provides a list of exceptions to the general open court rule, though it is only very rarely referred to in family proceedings. A search of Family Law Online reveals references to the rule only because it applies to civil proceedings in any event (eg Harb v King Fahd Bin [2005] EWCA Civ 632, [2005] 2 FLR 1108; though in DE v AB [2014] EWCA Civ 1064 Ryder LJ dealt with privacy without any reference to r 39(3)). In Allan v Clibbery [2002] EWCA Civ 45, [2002] 1 FLR 565 Dame
Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
newspapers
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from