Full case report

HRH Prince Louis of Luxembourg v HRH Princess Tessy of Luxembourg & anor

Reference [2017] EWHC 3095 (Fam)
Court High Court (Family Division)

Judge MacDonald J

Date of Judgment 5 Dec 2017


Summary

Reporting Restrictions – Family Division – Administration of Justice – Article 10 – Article 8


Facts

The parties are engaged in ongoing financial remedy proceedings. Their divorce was subject to media coverage in the UK and Europe. Some of the coverage included personal attacks on the wife, which accused her of marrying the husband, a member of the Luxembourg Royal Family, for financial gain and self-aggrandisement. The wife sought to publish information to redress this.  The husband applied to the court for an order restricting the publication of reports of the proceedings including certain classes of information, including financial information about the parties.


Issue

Whether a reporting restrictions order should be made prohibiting reports of proceedings that refer to (with a public domain proviso): settlement offers made; information relating to the parties’ finances; information relating to the parties’ children; the former matrimonial home; and information relating to a third party.


Held

Granting an injunction prohibiting publication of the classes of information sought by the husband until the conclusion of proceedings:

(1) In this case, Article 8 rights outweighed the Article 10 rights. The court may allow otherwise confidential information to be published to correct the record in the public domain, but this does not, in itself, remove duties of confidentiality or limitations on the disclosure of information contained in court documents.

(2) In relation to whether reports of settlement offers should be restrained: even bare details of an open offer would be an interference with the Article 8 rights of the parties. A weighty factor is that publication of the information could disrupt the process of compromise. Maintaining confidentiality of negotiations would be in the interests of the proper administration of justice.

(3) The address and certain information in relation to the family home was in the public domain, through HM Land Registry, but was not widely known to the public. Wide publication of the address and associated information could adversely affect the children as well as the negotiation process.

(4) The publication of the information in issue would be aimed at satisfying curiosity of the public rather than contributing to debate. There is no public interest simply on the basis that the case concerns members of a Royal family, especially as they have no public role in any jurisdiction.


Comment

The Court placed particular emphasis on the need for privacy in respect of complex and sensitive judicially assisted negotiations, despite the engagement of Article 10 rights and a legitimate desire of the wife to set the record straight. This even extended to bare figures of a settlement, which had been derived from information subject to an implied undertaking, but were not necessarily subject to an implied undertaking themselves (the information was not compelled and was not the husband’s).

The approach in Green Corns Ltd v Claverley Group Ltd [2005] EWHC 958 (QB) was followed, which considers the effect of re-publication of information already in the public domain. In this case, the information about the family home was not widely known and re-publication could be to the detriment of the negotiation process and the children. It was noted that in the context of a marital breakdown the stability of children’s circumstances should be preserved as far as possible. As such, restrictions on further publication of information relating to the family home were made.

MacDonald J also noted the ongoing uncertainty as to whether s.1(1)(b) of the Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926 applies to financial remedy proceedings. Despite Sir James Munby P suggesting Parliament should urgently review the position in Rapisarda v Colladon [2014] EWFC 1406  there has been there has been no further clarification as to the law.


Instructing Solicitors

Stewarts Law LLP for the Applicant; Farrer & Co for the First Respondent; Telegraph Media Group Ltd for the Second Respondent.


Links

Judgment