Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
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Jonathan Southgate QC and Petra Teacher (instructed by Rayden Solicitors) for the respondent
Hearing date: 20 May 2022
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Mostyn:
"the law, when properly understood, permits information about financial remedy proceedings and judgments (in cases which are not mainly about child maintenance) to be published unless the court has made a specific order preventing publication".
Scope of the application
Legal framework for the application
"121. … anonymisation can only be imposed by the court making a specific anonymity order in the individual case. Such an order can only lawfully be made following the carrying out of the ultimate balancing test referred to by Lord Steyn in Re S. It cannot be made casually or off-the-cuff, and it certainly cannot be made systematically by a rubric. On the contrary, the default condition or starting point should be open justice, and open justice means that litigants should be named in any judgment, even if it is painful and humiliating for them, as Lord Atkinson recognised in Scott v Scott."
i) Article 8 ECHR is engaged by the reporting of information disclosed in financial remedy proceedings, in turn obtained under compulsion (this not being H's application for financial relief);
ii) A significant proportion of the final hearing will focus on the valuation of a business in which H is a joint and equal shareholder. Dissemination of information regarding that business "could sour existing relationships and enable his competitors, all of whom bid and compete for the same work, to obtain a significant advantage";
iii) Reporting of that business information would also affect the commercial interests of third parties including, principally, H's business partner;
iv) Aspects of H's evidence as to his approach to a prospective liability arising from his involvement in an overseas company could be exploited and used for collateral purposes and prejudice his position in those proceedings. The nature of the allegations could expose H to criminal sanction, including imprisonment; and
v) Most of the evidence filed by the parties was done so with a reasonable expectation that their anonymity would be preserved, with steps including the reply phase being completed in January/February 2021, prior to the court's analysis in BT v CU on 1 November 2021.
i) Expressly states, on page 1, that this is an "interim" RRO;
ii) Expressly states, also on page 1, that "this order shall take effect forthwith notwithstanding that the seal of the court may not be impressed on it until a later date"; and
iii) Recites that the issue of whether a final or substantive RRO is to be made, and if so its scope shall be addressed by the parties in closing submissions.