REPORTING RESTRICTIONS/PRIVACY – David Ginola ‘surprised’ press can attend his family court hearing

Former France and Spurs footballer David Ginola has expressed surprise that the media were allowed to attend a hearing held in the family court. Mr Ginola was in court in a dispute with his ex-wife Coraline Delpin over money. Ginola said: ‘I am French. We are not used to this… I am very surprised.’

The judge refused to exclude the press from the hearing. She also decided that Mr Ginola and his ex-wife could be named, and it could be reported that the case dealt with issues in a dispute about money; but that no details of the issues dealt with at the hearing could be published.

Rule 27.11 of the Family Procedure Rules permits accredited journalists to attend family proceedings even when they are held in private. This is part of a drive to make family courts more transparent. However, what may be reported from those proceedings is limited, unless the judge makes an order allowing additional reporting. There are a series of rules dealing with what can and cannot be reported from hearings, which depends both upon the type of hearing – for example whether the proceedings are to do with children – and whether the judge has made any type of reporting restriction.

Most family court proceedings are held in private. However, judges can decide to hold certain proceedings in public instead. Some judges take the view that there is a pressing need for more openness, and generally hold hearings relating to money in divorce proceedings – known as ancillary relief proceedings – such as Mr Ginola’s case, in public. With this comes the ability of the media to report what went on in open court. Whereas other judges will hear such matters in private, but may decide to allow reporting of certain matters.

Great care should always be taken when reporting on hearings which take place in private. Legal advice should be sought as to what can be reported, and whether any application needs to be made to the judge to allow particular matters to be published.