High Court Provides Clarity On Third-Party Access To Court Documents

The English High Court has refused to give access to court documents on the basis that doing so would not advance the principles of open justice. The decision helps clarify how an earlier UK Supreme Court decision in the same case will be applied in practice. The judge said a third party wishing to gain access to documents referred to during a trial needs to demonstrate that the granting of access will actually advance the principles of open justice by enabling others to better understand the proceedings. The judgment is the latest stage in a dispute between campaigners at the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, represented by Graham Dring, and asbestos manufacturer Cape Intermediate Holdings. The campaigners had obtained an order in 2017 granting them access to a significant volume of material generated during a dispute between Cape and insurers of companies which had been held liable for their employees’ exposure to asbestos dust.
The decision will be welcomed by parties who want to litigate their disputes but are concerned about the confidentiality of their commercially sensitive information. In 2018, the Court of Appeal set aside that order, limiting the Forum’s access to the ‘records of the court’ provided for in rule 5.4C of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), which gives the court the power to grant access to documents from court records to non-parties to the case, and certain other documents, focusing on those which the judge has read or been asked to read.
Read more: Out-Law News,

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