Lykiardopulo v Lykiardopulo
Reference:  EWCA Civ 1315 (QB)
Court: Court of Appeal
Judge: Thorpe,Tomlinson and Stanley Burnton LJJ
Date of judgment: 19 Nov 2010
Summary: Ancillary relief - Compulsory disclosure - Litigation misconduct - Publicity of judgment - Anonymisation
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Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Respondent)
Adam Wolanski QC (Respondent)
Instructing Solicitors: Atkins Thomson for the First Respondent; Hughes Fowler Carruthers LLP for the Appellant; Manches for the Interested Party
The wife of a member of a wealthy Greek shipping dynasty brought proceedings for ancillary relief following the breakdown of their marriage. After a ten day trial Baron J found that the husband had conspired to manufacture documents for trial to hide the extent of his wealth, and ordered the husband to pay his wife some £20 million. Baron J subsequently ordered that the judgment should be anonymised, since publication of the parties’ identities would cause damage to the husband’s business and would adversely affect his health. The wife appealed against the order for anonymisation.
Whether the judgment should be anonymised
Allowing the appeal and striking out the order for anonymisation:
(1) The financial affairs of any family are essentially private and not a matter of legitimate public interest. Parties to ancillary relief proceedings owe the court a duty of full, frank disclosure, and may in general be assured that the confidentiality of this information will be respected. That confidence will in an appropriate case be protected by the anonymisation of any reported judgment.
(2) Different considerations apply when a litigant provides false information to the court. The litigant has no entitlement to confidentiality in respect of that information.
(3) Baron J had erred in finding that publication would cause commercial harm. The court was therefore at liberty to exercise an independent discretion.
(4) That discretion would be exercised in favour of permitting publication of the judgment in anonymised form, with redaction of any details of sensitive information which are irrelevant to the account of the family’s business and the litigation conspiracy.
(5) Where a judge does direct anonymisation of a judgment, this should not extend to falsifying details in the judgment.
The judgment confirms that parties to ancillary relief proceedings may generally expect the information they have provided about their finances to remain confidential, except where they have given perjured evidence. This may provide encouragement to litigants who wish to exclude the media from their hearings, or who want reporting restrictions imposed. The court did not however need to consider the broader question of the extent to which ancillary relief cases can be freely reported, and specifically whether the restrictions imposed by the Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926 apply to such disputes.