The above is a
quote from Mostyn J in the case of Leicester
City Council v Chahatbar .
By virtue of
rule 27.10 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 family proceedings are held in
private. The purpose is to protect the interests of a child and a family’s financial
affairs. Despite family proceedings being held in private, ‘news gathering and
reporting organisations’ are permitted to attend court (except the Financial
Dispute Resolution hearing and adoption proceedings). In fact the media has
been permitted to attend since 2009 when it was encouraged for there to be more
openness in the family courts. The court retains the power to prevent the media
attending but it is important to advise our family clients that the presumption in
the first instance is that they can
attend their hearing. However, this does not mean the proceedings become public
and a media representative is still subject to reporting restrictions
(especially in children act proceedings). When the court decides on whether a case
can be reported, a judge undertakes a balancing exercise between an individual's convention right of privacy versus the concept of open justice and freedom of
disclosed within family proceedings are confidential so no-one can simply take
copies of your court file without leave of the court, for example a media
representative, and similarly all documents filed must not be disclosed by any
party in the proceedings to third parties without permission of the court
first. I advise my clients that any documents disclosed within the divorce and
children Act proceedings cannot be shown to a third party without permission
first. This includes showing an extract of a party’s form E to
your accountant for an opinion or an expert’s report to a professional colleague or a friend.
If in doubt, always discuss with your solicitor first because if you do
disclose a confidential document to a third party, then you could face criticism
from the court and the other party.
If you have any questions about a recent separation or divorce/financial remedy proceedings, you can telephone Kate Lovegrove direct on 01892 506 205 or 01732 224 025. Kate is an Associate Solicitor in the family team and is based in our Tunbridge Wells and Kings Hill office.