- In March 2011, the First Tier Tribunal (‘FTT’) issued a decision ordering the Appellant, Mr. A, to pay child maintenance of £57.14 per week retrospectively from April 2009 to Miss. G, the second Respondent and mother of their son, (‘N’).
- A successfully appealed the decision in the Upper Tribunal. The appeal was heard in public and the decision was published by the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeals Chamber’s (‘UT(AAC)’). In accordance with the UT(AAC)’s practice, the names of the parents were anonymised and N was referred to by his forename only.
- Mr A. challenged the Upper Tribunal’s decision, arguing that the UT(AAC)’s practice of anonymisation was unlawful, and that no anonymity order should have been made. Mr. A relied on the “fundamental common law principle of open justice”.
- A further contended that the involvement of a child in cases relating to child maintenance did not warrant any departure from the open justice principle.
- The appeal was allowed; no anonymity order should have been made.
- Anonymity should not be inevitable merely because a case relates to issues concerning a child and was heard in private at first instance.
- The categorisation of the subject matter of a case as “private business” does not found the making of an anonymity order (and thereafter an order for reporting restrictions).
- The default position in a child maintenance case in either tier of Tribunal is that the hearing takes place in public.
- Although in one sense the child is the subject of the proceedings, he or she has no effective part to play in them.
- Accordingly, the extent of the harm to the child that would have been avoided by the making of an anonymity order was not of sufficient magnitude to outweigh the public interest in there being an unredacted judgment.