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XZ v YZ [2022] EWFC 49 (Fam)

This case concerned an application by H for a Reporting Restriction order (‘RRO’) ahead of a final hearing in W’s application for financial remedies.

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The decision provides that it is possible for an interim RRO to be sought pending a full investigation of the matters weighing on either side of the balancing exercise between open justice and privacy. 

This application followed Mr Justice Mostyn's decision in Xanthopoulos v Rakshina [2022] EWFC 30, which at [125] states that publication of information in financial remedy proceedings should be the status quo unless a specific order preventing publication has been made.

In considering the application, Mostyn J applied what he referred to in Xanthopoulos as "the ultimate balancing test" from Re S (A Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) [2005] 1 AC 593, HL, per Lord Steyn. This is the balance to be struck between ECHR, Articles 8, 6 and 10 (privacy on the one hand and open justice / the rights of the public at large on the other). 

The thrust of H's submissions with regards anonymisation was with respect the impact on his business, business prospects, and business partner of publication of information disclosed. Mostyn J acknowledged that he could see some merit in H's application. However, he determined only to make an interim RRO pending submissions from press as to the extent of their opposition to the RRO and also the extent to which any information about H's business affairs would become public during the oral evidence / submissions.

As a final note of warning to practitioners, Mostyn J highlighted in his judgment differences between what was sought and the way that the application was put as between the D11, the submissions made orally and the draft order. The importance of consistency when making such applications is likely to be important when bringing such applications to court in the future.

Case summary by Rachel Cooper, Barrister, Coram Chambers

For full case, please see BAILII