The Constitutional Court has ruled that section 12 of the Divorce Act infringed on the right to freedom of expression as it prohibited publication of any information that came to light during a divorce action, writes Ernest Mabuza in Business Day. 

However, the court ruled that, subject to authorisation granted by a court in exceptional circumstances, the publication of the identity, and any information that might reveal the identity, of any party or child in any divorce proceeding before any court is prohibited.

The Sunday Times was due to publish a story in April 2007 about a paternity fraud battle between a divorced couple before the couple successfully obtained an interim interdict. The couple relied on section 12(1) and 12(3) of the Divorce Act of 1979, which restrained people from publishing any particulars of a divorce action which come to light during the course of such an action.

The owner of the Sunday Times launched a counterapplication in which it sought an order declaring that section 12 was unconstitutional.

In February last year, Acting Judge Nazeer Cassim found section 12 offended against the right to freedom of expression. The matter was referred to the Constitutional Court to confirm the constitutional invalidity of the section. Acting Judge Christopher Jafta said the matter raised difficult questions about maintaining the correct balance between competing rights entrenched in the bill of rights.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.