Notwithstanding retirement, I do of course continue to take an interest in legal developments and cases especially those relating to divorce. In particular my attention was drawn last week to the newspaper reports on the hearing involving Mr and Mrs Hohn in what is being described as the UK’s wealthiest divorce case.
In the interests of transparency family cases have been opened up to enable attendance by accredited members of the Press. Their powers to report on the specific details of a case have, however, been very limited. When issuing a court application for a client I have, therefore, advised that, although proceedings are in private, the Press could be present but, reassuringly, that this is unlikely.
Save for those divorcees looking for a celebrity moment, many must have been extremely shocked by the High Court’s decision which has permitted everything to be reported except detailed financial information. That said, one can probably assume that the Press will not, as a result, suddenly decide to attend every case where a financial order is sought; Mr and Mrs Hohn’s circumstances and wealth are somewhat exceptional.
For those who are genuinely concerned that their intimate details may be emblazoned across the Media are there any other options? Negotiation, arbitration, mediation and collaboration all spring to mind; differing levels of wealth or trust between parties making one process potentially more suitable than another. All, however, offer confidentiality, free from Press intrusion.
Perhaps a case like the Hohns’ is what has been required to encourage would-be litigants to examine all options with their solicitors, rather than embark on litigation other than as a last resort.