XW v XH (Court of Appeal)
Reference:  EWCA Civ 549
Court: Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
Judge: Underhill LJ, King LJ, Moylan LJ
Date of judgment: 2 Apr 2019
Summary: Court of Appeal – Financial remedies – Reporting Restrictions – Anonymity
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Desmond Browne QC (Appellant)
Adam Wolanski QC (Appellant)
Instructing Solicitors: Stewarts for the Appellant, Sears Tooth Solicitors for the Respondent
An appellant wife in financial remedy proceedings applied in advance of the hearing of her appeal for a reporting restrictions order anonymising the parties. The application was primarily made on the ground that such an order was necessary to protect the interests of the parties’ child, who suffered from a very serious illness.
The judge in the court below had made a reporting restrictions order having made findings of fact as to the likely harm that would result from publicising the names of the parties. That order was not appealed.
The respondent husband initially opposed the making of an anonymity order, but then reversed his position during the hearing.
Should a reporting restriction order be made
A reporting restriction should be made. The starting point was that the hearings in the Court of Appeal in financial remedies cases were heard in open court and without any restriction on reporting. A different starting point applies at first instance, where such cases are heard in private.
This was an exceptional case in which the welfare interests of the child justified the making of an order anonymising the parties. The order made by the judge below had not been appealed, and his findings as to the harm that publicity may cause were not now challenged. Whilst the Court of Appeal was not bound to follow the course adopted by the judge below, and was required to consider the matter afresh, it would not go behind the finding of harm that had already been made.
The court gave guidance, following Norman v Norman  1 WLR 2523, as to the correct procedure that should be followed on such applications to the Court of Appeal.