Martin Downs represented the Local Authority and Jacqueline Roach the child before the President of the Family Division in the case of E [2014] EWHC 6.

In this case, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division held that the English Courts cannot prevent “E’s” mother from giving details of the case to the Slovakian media. The wardship proceedings concerning a 12 year old Slovak child who was the subject of a serious disagreement as to his medical treatment. At one point, he was made an involuntary in-patient under the Mental Health Act. The child is a British citizen, having been born in the UK and living in the UK his whole life. His Mother is Slovakian and his father British. Following the wardship proceedings, a care order was made allowing the child to remain in the care of his aunt. His Mother then returned to Slovakia and provided details of the case to the Slovakian media.

The Court made a Restricted Reporting Order stating that the foreign print or broadcast media could report on the case, so long as it is not in the English language, not on the internet, and so long as she does not identify E.

Munby said the court must proceed with ‘very great caution’. Any attempt to control foreign media, whether directly or indirectly, he said is ‘simply impermissible’.

‘In the first place, what justification can there be for the courts in one country seeking to control the media in another? If the media in a particular state are to be controlled that must be a matter for the relevant authorities in that state,’

He also gave guidance:

  1. in cases with a European dimension, the Court should explicitly consider and record in its Judgment the basis of its jurisdiction by reference to Brussels II Revised (Council Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003);
  2. that the Vienna Convention needed to be respected by Courts and public authorities and, depending on the circumstances, it created obligations to notify the Consular Officials of the relevant country that a person has been the subject of deprivation of liberty and/or had a Guardian appointed to represent their interests, to tell the individual about their right and allow visits by officials of the country concerned as well as allowing them access to Court – even when its sitting in private; and
  3. about the circumstances in which an RRO could be made in a case like this and its scope bearing in mind the undesirability of seeking to make Orders binding foreign press about what they can print in their own countries. However, in this case an Order was necessary and bound the domestic press in England and Wales and publication on the internet in the English language.

The President has widely circulated this judgment which has significant practical implications for all cases involving families from other EU countries.


At different times Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, Martin Forde QC, Adam Smith, Tim Bergin, Hala Mustafa, Rachel Claridge, Sydney Chawatama and Gavin Howe have represented parties in this case.

Chambers has particular expertise with cases concerning freedom of expression and reporting restrictions.

Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC appeared in JXMX (A Child) v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2013] EWHC 3956 (QB).

Angus McCullough QC is acting as Advocate to the Court (‘Amicus’) in the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson & Others.

Marina Wheeler appeared in East Sussex CC v Stedman, Patten and News Group Newspapers Ltd [2009] EWHC 935 (Fam) representing Mrs Stedman in wardship proceedings and supporting East Sussex County Council’s efforts to restrain and limit media reporting about the private and family lives of her teenage daughter and her granddaughter. She also has special expertise in restricting the reporting of Serious Case Reviews.

Martin Downs is a specialist in cases concerning reporting restrictions and appeared in A Council v M, A, B & C [2013] EWHC 1501 (Fam) where Peter Jackson made RROs of virtually unprecedented severity. He was also Counsel in: K (A Child: Wardship: Publicity) (No 1) [2013] EWHC B11 (Fam) (25 July 2013); and K (A Child: Wardship: Publicity), Re (No 2) [2013] EWHC 3748 (Fam) which established important freedoms for parties to family proceedings to speak out. He also regularly appears in cases with an international dimension.

Jacqueline Roach is particularly experienced in cases involving the most serious psychiatric and psychological disorders. She has appeared in West Sussex County Council v M, F, W, X, Y & Z 2010 EWHC 1014 Fam, [2011] 1 FLR 188 where the Judge looked at granting permission to the local authority to withdraw proceedings where the mother has been accused of F11 syndrome.

Rosalind English regularly writes about this topic on the UK Human Rights Blog.