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Confidentiality in Family Proceedings

Posted on 12th April 2018 in Family Law

Posted by

Aimee Aspinall

Associate and Chartered Legal Executive
Confidentiality in Family Proceedings

The general rule in private family proceedings is that they are confidential and therefore the details are not widely available. Often when a higher court judgment is published, the parties’ names are anonymised and this applies to all private family proceedings unless there are significant public policy or public interest reasons to the contrary.

A recent Family Court judgment has gone against the grain and the Court has been seen to be lifting the veil of confidentiality in private proceedings.

The case involved a divorcing couple and the proceedings were lengthy largely due to the husband’s failure to provide proper disclosure or comply with court orders. The husband was a property entrepreneur who had both before and during the marriage been very wealthy but claimed in the proceedings that he had almost nothing. The wife did not work however her wealthy parents assisted her in purchasing the family home, cars and a villa held for the parties’ child.

The court found that the husband had undisclosed assets and that he most likely forged his wife’s signature on various financial documents and stole money provided by her parents for her benefit instead spending it on himself.

The wife applied to the court:

  • For the first two judgments to be published un-anonymised [save for not identifying their child];
  • For the Court to send the un-anonymised judgments to regulatory, investigatory and prosecuting authorities including the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC and the government’s Insolvency Service;
  • For permission to be able to use the un-anonymised judgments to protect herself from the ramifications of the husband’s financial affairs or to pursue enforcement.

The Court granted each application and therefore lifted the veil of confidentiality that usually encompasses ‘in private’ financial remedy proceedings. The Court noted that “…publication in this case would show to others that a party to divorce proceedings cannot easily hide the truth… And further, that a non-discloser when caught may face significant and serious consequences in terms of exposure thereafter”.

If you need any advice regarding a matter like this, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with our experienced team of family law solicitors by calling 01392 207020 or emailing family@tozers.co.uk.

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