Since April 2009, legislation has come into force which entitles representatives of the media to attend certain family hearings in Court. The purpose of this legislation is to promote transparency in the family justice system and only in exceptionable circumstances can the court be invited to exclude the media.
However, did the press coverage of the Nicole Appleton and Liam Gallagher's divorce go too far?
In Appleton and Gallagher v NGN Ltd 2015, Mostyn J made his judgement clear on the matter of privacy. Mostyn J considers that a journalist may attend a hearing in the Family Division and they may say a bit about the procedure and how matters were decided, but they may not actually report what goes on at the hearing to include reporting on the parties financial positions as outlined within their Form E's and Replies to Questionnaires etc.
Mostyn J considers the law on press reporting of ancillary relief proceedings to be a “mess”. A fitting word to sum up his judgement.
Upon the outcome of Mostyn J's very clear approach to matters, NGN Ltd have been granted permission to appeal.
We await the outcome of the appeal. It is clear that a Court of Appeal decision is necessary to bring clarity for all couples embarking on Court proceedings in trying to establish a financial settlement upon divorce.
The law on press reporting of ancillary relief proceedings is ‘a mess’: Mostyn J Permission given to appeal to resolve the ‘unhappy divergence of judicial approach’ In Appleton & Gallagher v News Group Newspapers and PA  ....., he noted that ancillary relief proceedings are subject to a "far wider" scope of disclosure than in a civil dispute: "you basically have to disclose everything about your economic life"...... Mostyn J said that following the introduction of FPR 27.11 which now permits the admission of the press, but not the public, Parliament had specifically maintained these proceedings as private: "It is inconceivable that Parliament could have intended to destroy the effect of the implied undertaking when it allowed the press to observe these private proceedings as a watchdog".