News

Details of Liam Gallagher’s divorce to be kept private, but judge criticises lack of clarity on media reporting of cases

  • September 29, 2015
  • By Hunters Law

A High Court judge has ruled that the financial details of Liam Gallagher’s divorce to singer Nicola Appleton cannot be reported in the press.

The couple made a joint application to exclude the press from hearings about the financial aspects of their divorce, called financial remedy proceedings.

Mr Justice Mostyn relaxed two existing interim injunctions, thereby allowing the press to attend the hearings but prohibiting them from reporting details of the parties’ financial affairs. He said details of their children’s lives should also remain private.

In his written judgment, Mr Justice Mostyn said the parties had been forced to provide extensive financial information for the purposes of the proceedings on the basis that it would remain private.

Since 2009 the press have been allowed to attend family court hearings held in private as a “watchdog” to observe how the courts operate. Whilst acknowledging this right, Mr Justice Mostyn said that it did not extend to reporting everything they heard.

He said his comments follow “hard on the heels” of his judgment in the case of DL-v-SL, in which he made an order preserving the anonymity of the parties and securing their privacy in respect of personal and business financial affairs.

Mr Justice Mostyn’s approach is contrary to some other members of the family court judiciary. In the recent divorce of Richard and Ekaterina Fields, Mr Justice Holman, another High Court judge, ordered the financial dispute to be heard in open court. The couple were subsequently subjected to extensive press coverage.

The Independent, Telegraph and Evening Standard all published details of the case. Under the headline “Russian beauty queen received £630,000 divorce pay out from her first husband – after demanding £500,000 from her now estranged second husband to leave him” the Daily Mail Online commented on the couple’s bank balances, health issues and lifestyle during the marriage.

In considering the press intrusion on the couple, Mr Justice Holman said “I regret their distress; but it cannot, in my view, override the importance of court proceedings being…open and transparent.”

Mr Justice Holman’s approach was criticised by Sir Paul Coleridge, a former family High Court judge, and founder of the Marriage Foundation: ” It is very unfair because it means that the threat of an open hearing can be used a weapon to force settlement.”

Many of the judiciary are calling for clarification on the issue of privacy, as Mr Justice Mostyn said in his judgment yesterday:

“To say that the law about the ability of the press to report ancillary relief proceedings (now called financial remedy proceedings) which they are allowed to observe is a mess would be a serious understatement.”

He called on the Court of Appeal to consider the divergence of opinion between judges as to privacy and reporting.

Until there is more certainty, divorcing couples are best advised to avoid using the courts. Non–court based processes, such as mediation and arbitration, enable couples to maintain privacy and control whilst dealing with complex financial settlements on divorce. This is surely a happier prospect for any couple going through divorce. Even the rich and famous need a break from the headlines sometimes.

Vanessa Friend

Hunters

@Huntersfamlaw

Vanessa’s article was also published in The Global Legal Post here.

Related News

Feb 26, 2021
Richard Kershaw considers the implications of Mr Justice Cohen’s judgment in FRB v DRC (No 3) in Family Law Week
Feb 25, 2021
Richard Kershaw examines the impact of market volatility on divorce settlements in Finance Monthly
Feb 24, 2021
Polly Atkins examines whether one can charge an ex-spouse rent whilst waiting for their home to sell
Feb 19, 2021
Richard Kershaw examines whether you can re-open a divorce settlement due to Covid-19 in Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary
Feb 02, 2021
Amy Scollan discusses divorce and luxury assets
Feb 01, 2021
Richard Kershaw discusses recent case where an unmarried couple have been ordered to share investment assets
Jan 18, 2021
Family Mediation Week 2021
Nov 19, 2020
Jay Patel and Polly Atkins examine family law in the lead up to Brexit in Family Law Week
Nov 09, 2020
Richard Kershaw discusses trusts on divorce and their role in financial planning strategies
Nov 05, 2020
Hunters recognised in The Times Best Law Firms 2021

© Hunters Law LLP 2021 | Privacy NoticeLegal & Regulatory | Cookies Policy | Complaints Procedure.

Hunters Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 657218)