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 test
  • 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

May 22, 2019
Henry Hood discusses the division of private corporate assets on divorce in Legalease’s Family Law Journal
May 17, 2019
Henry Hood wins the Career Achievement Award at the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2019
May 15, 2019
Hetty Gleave examines sensitive family proceedings and public confidence in The Times
May 10, 2019
Hetty Gleave comments on Sir Andrew McFarlane’s plans to boost news coverage of family court proceedings in Family Law Week
May 09, 2019
Hetty Gleave and Anna Roiser discuss child maintenance and things to consider as summer approaches
May 03, 2019
Hunters’ Family Department featured in Spear’s Magazine
May 03, 2019
Henry Hood recommended in the Spear’s Indices 2019 for Family Lawyers 2019
Apr 30, 2019
Hazel Wright examines three cases that have proved useful to family lawyers regarding the Human Rights Act 1998 in Family Law Week
Apr 09, 2019
Henry Hood comments on the no-fault divorce reform in The Guardian
Apr 05, 2019
Jo Carr-West comments on a £1.3m divorce award despite signing a pre-nuptial agreement in Family Law Week

© Hunters Law LLP 2019 | Privacy NoticeLegal & Regulatory | Cookies Policy | Complaints Procedure

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