It can be very frustrating when one party to proceedings think that they are above the law and they do not need to attend court or comply with directions; but this is what TV personality Ant McPartlin has done.
During, what can only be perceived as the First Directions Appointment in respect of financial relief claims arising from their on-going divorce, Mr Justice Mostyn is quoted to have asked lawyers for Ant "Why is he not here? There isn't one law for the famous and one for the rest of the community. The rules say he was supposed to be here - and that can be reported. He has been told off."
In accordance with the Family Procedure Rules 2010 9.15(8) Both parties must personally attend the first appointment unless the court directs otherwise.
It is likely on this occasion that the Judge proceeded in Ant McPartlin’s absence and set down directions and dates by which the parties have to comply with the filing of further documents. However, the Judge may also have chosen to adjourn the matter, listing it for another day so that Ant could attend.
Adjourning the matter would clearly create additional costs for his estranged wife Lisa, who was represented at court with her legal team, by them having to attend another hearing date.
Under the Family Procedure Rules 2010 9.15(6) in considering whether to make a costs order the court must have particular regard to the extent to which each party has complied with the requirement to send documents with the financial statement and the explanation given for any failure to comply and so, despite Ant failing to attend court, if all other directions have been complied with by him, the court are unlikely to have ordered that Ant should meet Lisa’s legal costs incurred at that hearing. This can be a bitter pill to swallow.
However, the fact that Mr Justice Mostyn has allowed his comments to be reported shows clearly that no-one is above the law in the family courts and each person will be treated the same.