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Family Law

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22 APR 2010

PUBLICITY/ VULNERABLE ADULT: Independent News & Media v A [2010] EWCA Civ 343

(Court of Appeal; Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, Sir Mark Potter; 31 March 2010)

An application by the media was made to attend a Court of Protection hearing where a vulnerable adult was a public figure. The rules provided that matters were to be dealt with in private unless 'good reason' to do otherwise. The judge held that Court of Protection hearings were within the exceptions to the open justice principle, and therefore Art 10 rights of the media were not automatically engaged. However, once 'good reason' was established, then Art 10 became engaged and a balance had to be struck between Art 10 and Art 8.

The judge concluded that 'good reason' had been demonstrated because: relevant issues were already within the public domain; the court could preserve privacy while addressing the issues; and it was in public interest that there should be an understanding of jurisdiction and the powers of the court. The media were to be allowed into hearing and some reporting to be allowed (including name but excluding size of earnings, details of care and family discussions).

The Official Solicitor appealed as to whether there was 'good reason' in this case. The media disputed judge's analysis of Art 10. The appeal was dismissed, but the Court of Appeal held that Art 10 was engaged when the application was first made by media, not merely once 'good reason' was established.

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