Top judges in dispute over handling of big-money divorce battles


Senior members of the judiciary should be asked for their views on a disagreement between High Court judges over how much the public can be told about people involved in big-money divorce battles, a High Court judge has suggested.

The disagreement emerged last year following rulings by two judges who sit in the Family Division of the High Court - where rich couples stage fights over cash after separating - and are based in London.

Mr Justice Holman, who analyses cash fights at public hearings, said there was a ''pressing need'' for more openness. But Mr Justice Mostyn, who analyses fights in private, said such disputes were ''quintessentially private business''.

Other judges in the Family Division of the High Court analyse fights behind closed doors - and appear to agree with Mr Justice Mostyn.

One of those, Mr Justice Moor, has now suggested that Court of Appeal judges need to examine the issue.

Mr Justice Moor outlined his thoughts while analysing a money fight at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Friday - and he gave a journalist at the hearing permission to report his comments.

"Presumably, sooner or later, somebody is going to appeal," Mr Justice Moor told lawyers at the hearing. "It is overdue."

He added: "It just seems to me that this difference of opinion between the other judges and Mr Justice Holman needs to be dealt with."

Mr Justice Holman had outlined his views in a ruling on a case in June, after sitting in open court to analyse evidence and allowing reporters to name adults involved.

Mr Justice Mostyn had spelled out his stance in a ruling published in September. He had barred reporters from identifying the people involved in the case and had analysed evidence at a private hearing.

He had also said Court of Appeal judges should be asked for their views.

Sir James Munby - President of the Family Division of the High Court, and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales - has called for ''much more'' transparency in the family justice system.

He says the public has a right to know ''what is being done in their name''.

Family court hearings are usually staged in private, with members of the public barred.

Rules allow journalists to attend hearings, but reporters are not necessarily allowed to publicise detail of cases.