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02 July 2014

Freedom of Information and Closed Proceedings: The Unavoidable Irony

2 mins

“The idea of a court hearing evidence or argument in private is contrary to the principle of open justice, which is fundamental to the dispensation of justice in a modern, democratic
society. . . .
   Even more fundamental to any justice system in a modern, democratic society is the principle of natural justice, whose most important aspect is that every party has a right to know the full case against him, and the right to test and challenge that case fully. A closed hearing is therefore even more offensive to fundamental principle than a private hearing.

 1. This restatement of what many see as two of the most fundamental principles of the rule of law comes at the outset of the Supreme Court majority’s judgment in Bank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury [2013] UKSC 38 [2013] 3 WLR 179,1 handed down in June last year. Yet June 2013 may also be remembered as the month in which Parliament abandoned those principles through the introduction of closed material proceedings in all civil trials via the Justice and Security Act 2013 (“the Act”). Ironically, that Act came into effect just six days after the judgment in Bank Mellat.

Please click here to read the full article which was published in Judicial Review.


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