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Injunctions – for Richer for Poorer

It seems that in recent times a posse of “the rich and famous” (or whatever the collective noun is for a gaggle of rich and famous people who are predisposed to philandering and indiscretions) has suddenly discovered that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. You can almost picture the scene of one of them reaching for their “super injunction” and exclaiming, “How did I ever manage without it?” It is in these circumstances that the so-called right to privacy has achieved notoriety of premier league proportions over the last couple of weeks.

What may not be appreciated however is that the Family Law Courts have wrestled with the concept of the right to privacy since the beginning of time and developed the principle that the domestic affairs of any family are in essence private. As one Court of Appeal Judge beautifully put it, the main purpose of the practice of privacy “in the Family Division is to protect the welfare of children.” However the practice also enables the Court to deny a nosey public, an inspection of the family’s affairs “that is only prurient.” This is usually achieved by granting anonymity to the parties and the children, but also by the careful censorship of any detail which might lead a fledgling Sherlock Holmes to discover their identity.

This does not mean that proper regard will not be had to open and fair justice. Nor does it mean that an identity will be protected in circumstances where there is a legitimate public interest in the identity being revealed. For example in 2010 the right to anonymity was withdrawn from Mr Lykiardopulo who had manufactured some documents and failed to disclose other documentation in an attempt to deceive the Court as to his true wealth. Importantly, the Court highlighted the fact that those who lie to the Court cannot also expect its protection. Apart from being “named and shamed”, Mr Lykiardopulo was also ordered to transfer £20 million of assets and cash to his former wife. Perhaps there isn’t one law for the rich and another for the poor after all!

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