Court of Appeal rejects presumption of anonymity in trusts cases


The Court of Appeal has rejected the argument that there should be a presumption in favour of granting anonymity to beneficiaries in variation of trust cases, confirming that the open justice principle applies and beneficiaries should ordinarily be identified.

In MN v OP, beneficiaries of trust funds from one of the UK’s most wealthy aristocratic families sought variations to the family trust. Of the 13 beneficiaries, 11 were adults and 2 were children. The family sought to argue that there should be a presumption in favour of anonymity in these cases and that all of the beneficiaries should be granted anonymity. The Court of Appeal invited the media to intervene. Having heard submissions, the Court rejected the appellant’s central argument that variation of trust hearings should be treated as an exception to open justice, by analogy with approval hearings in personal injury claims. The Court decided that none of the adults should be granted anonymity, but made reporting restrictions in favour of the two children until they reached maturity.

Guy Vassall-Adams QC acted for the BBC and other media interveners in this case.

For the judgment, please see here.