Parties in financial remedy proceedings should remain anonymous in judgments and press reports, a judge-led transparency group has recommended in a bid to clear up confusion.

A report from the financial remedies arm of the family president division's transparency implementation group said it was uncontroversial to state that the position in relation to transparency in the financial remedies court was ‘not straightforward’ and there was a large level of misunderstanding on the current position.

Anonymity was one of eight issues considered by the sub-group led by circuit judge His Honour Judge Stuart Farquhar.

‘This is undoubtedly the issue with the greatest controversy following the judgments of Mostyn J in 2022 in which he held that it is wrong in law for parties in the FRC to remain anonymous and that there would need to be a change in law to permit this to happen as a matter of general practice (as opposed to exception),’ the report states.

‘Most other High Court judges that regularly deal with FRC work appear to us to remain of the view that parties should retain their anonymity, although they do not set out the legal basis for so doing. This has created an uncertainty and it is difficult for judges below High Court level as well as practitioners to understand the present legal position.’

A stakeholder survey found that over three-quarters of respondents favoured anonymisation and 16% were against. Of the 128 solicitor and barrister respondents who dealt with asset cases of more than £5m, 82% were in favour of anonymisation and 12% were against.

One respondent said it would be anathema to last year’s introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce if parties who simply wished to end their marriage were ‘forced to allow the public at large to scrutinise the most personal and private details of their lives’.

The committee acknowledged the significant importance of open justice. ‘But where that comes into irreconcilable tension with the particular considerations of FR proceedings… a balance needs to be struck’.

The starting point for that balance, the committee said, was general anonymisation of reporting on publicly and freely accessible websites.


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