Proceedings had been ongoing in the Court of Protection since June 2020 concerning the health and welfare and property and affairs of Srichand Parmanand Hinduja (‘SP’), an 86-year-old man who suffers from dementia. The proceedings had been brought by SP’s brother, Gopichand Parmanand Hinduja (‘GP’), to challenge the legitimacy of a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and affairs in favour of SP’s daughters (the ‘LPA’). The Hinduja family is one of the wealthiest families in the United Kingdom and has a global business empire operating in many sectors and employing some 200,000 people around the world.
There had been a large number of hearings which had taken place in open court but subject to the Court of Protection’s standard reporting restriction order (‘RRO’) which is ordinarily imposed in Court of Protection proceedings, which prevented SP and the Hinduja family from being identified in reports of the proceedings.
The Official Solicitor (acting as SP’s litigation friend), Bloomberg News, PA Media, and Professor Celia Kitzinger (Open Justice Court of Protection Project) contended that the RRO should be lifted.
GP contended that the RRO should remain in force or, in the alternative, that after SP had died there could be a ‘halfway house’ order, whereby health and welfare information about SP remained subject to a RRO whilst permitting identification of SP and others. SP’s daughters argued that the RRO should remain in force until judgment had been handed down following a subsequent hearing, and that after that the Court ought to take an approach which prevented any identification of the parties in relation to health and welfare issues and in any report which made any reference to SP’s general health and the care provided to him.
On 23 August 2022, the Vice President of the Court of Protection (Hayden J) ordered that the RRO be lifted:  EWCOP 36 but granted a short stay for the reasons given in  EWCOP 37. The Vice President found that the RRO had prevented any meaningful reporting of the proceedings because the family’s public profile and ongoing proceedings in the Chancery Division created a high risk of jigsaw identification. The Vice President held that SP’s needs had been ‘consistently marginalised’ as a result of a wider Hinduja family dispute in which their own litigation interests became their primary objective, and that open reporting of the proceedings was necessary to provide a ‘protective layer’ to him. The Vice President also found that there was a public interest in reporting that the Court of Protection proceedings appeared to have been used as leverage in the Chancery Division proceedings, and that SP’s daughters had disclaimed the LPA after drawing on SP’s assets to fund their own costs of the Court of Protection proceedings, which the judge described as a ‘flagrant conflict of interest’.
GP appealed the decision to lift the RRO. Bloomberg LP was an intervening party at first instance and on the appeal.