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Court of Appeal: Divorcée can be identified

Appeal judges lift an order protecting parties’ anonymity

It has been reported by the Press Association that the Court of Appeal has rejected an application for a reporting restriction order by a former wife involved in financial remedy proceedings against her husband. Tina Norman had claimed that her financial affairs were "private business" and that there was no public interest in the disclosure of her identity. Various newspapers successfully contested the making of a reporting restriction order. The judgment will be available at a later date.

Jo Carr-West, partner in the family department at Hunters Solicitors, said:

"This case highlights the tensions that exists between the need for greater openness in the family courts and the desire by parties to keep matters between them confidential and discreet.

"The public are able to attend hearings heard in 'open court' and in addition, the press have been able to attend select hearings in family proceedings since the court rules were changed in 2009. Although the press are only able to report in broad terms on the proceedings, and applications can be made to ensure that they are not present, complete anonymity can evidently never be guaranteed, as we have seen here.

"What divorcing parties wishing to keep their affairs completely private must instead consider are other forms of out of court dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration.

"Arbitration, a possibility in family cases since 2012, is expected to become increasingly popular as it can replicate the court process whilst keeping the proceedings entirely private to the parties. It is also cost effective and a potentially swifter alternative to a court resolution."

Renato Labi, Partner at Hughes Fowler Carruthers, said:

"It is not at all surprising that the privacy order was lifted. Court of Appeal cases are important ones, and unless there are young minor children to protect, couples must unfortunately expect their dirty linen to be washed in public."

20/1/17