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Privacy Prevails in Divorce Case

Friday, 13 July 2012

A District Judge has ordered that the parties to a recent divorce case remain anonymous. Reporters were also banned from reporting the financial details of the case to avoid causing embarrassment to the husband and his family.

Although journalists had argued that there was a serious public interest in some of the issues raised in the divorce hearing, District Judge Hilary Bradley said that on balance privacy should be maintained.

The Issues

The husband at the centre of the divorce had tried to have reporters excluded entirely from the private hearing but journalists from the Times Newspaper and the Press Association were allowed to attend.

The issue which was the focus of the proposed restriction centred on the financial arrangements between the husband and his father. The husband's father had particular concerns about the disclosure of his financial affairs which he believed could cause embarrassment to him, could impact on his career and possibly cause a risk to his life.

Times Newspapers argued that any impediment to reporting in this case would constitute an unjustifiable derogation from the open justice principle.

The judge summarised the issues at stake as being a direct conflict to the right of the media to freedom of expression and the right of those involved in matrimonial proceedings to respect for their private lives.

The Deciding Factors

The financial arrangements between the father of the husband and the husband were only disclosed under compulsion to comply with the full and fair disclosure requirements of the divorce proceedings. The details of those arrangements were sensitive and publicity could have been damaging not just to the husband but also his father. The father and his family were in no way connected to the actual divorce proceedings themselves.

The media interest in the case related to what was described in Court as, "cosy financial arrangements" between the husband and his father. Lawyers for the Times Newspapers believed that there was a serious public interest in the issues raised. The District Judge even stated that it was entirely understandable why the media might wish to report on the facts having heard the evidence.


In weighing up the factors on either side of the case, the District Judge concluded that in considering the balance between the right of the media to freedom of expression and the right of the husband and his family to respect for family life, it weighed in favour of privacy being maintained.

Whilst divorce and related financial proceedings are heard in private the media can have access to some hearings. If you need advice on protecting your privacy and the privacy of your family within divorce and related financial proceedings please contact one of our specialist family law solicitors on 0808 159 5250.