Family Judge defends the principle of open justice

A Judge has ruled that an acrimonious divorce battle should be heard in public, emphasising it is important that justice is seen to be done.

On the eve of a ten-day hearing at London’s High Court, Richard Fields – the husband in the case – had objected to the multi-million pound dispute being heard in public.

But Mr Justice Holman, who has urged the couple to reach an out-of-court settlement, had ruled the case should be heard in public – even though the starting point for family division appeal court hearings is that they are heard privately.

“How can people have any confidence in the way the system is being operated if they are excluded?

“The press have to be in here unless it is necessary to exclude them.

“Barristers have got to understand that so far as this Judge is concerned and this court is concerned there is a very, very high public interest … in openness.

“The public are entitled not just to hear the sanitised judgment that a Judge gives, they are entitled to hear the evidence and argument upon which he has based that judgment. They are entitled to see the Judge at work.”

Mr Fields, a successful businessman, had married former beauty queen Ekaterina Parfenova in 2002, but their relationship broke down and a decree nisi was granted in March 2013.

However, the proceedings are still to conclude as the couple, who have two young children, continue to battle over their £8million assets.

Mrs Fields is looking for a £500,000 home in London and is also seeking maintenance payments from her estranged husband’s £1.3million annual income.

The hearing continues.