A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people
A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people

Risk of further delays and privacy breaches in ‘open justice’ plans

24 Apr 2024
APIL news

Proposals to allow non-parties access to court documents in civil proceedings must be made on a case-by-case basis to protect people’s rights, campaign group APIL says.


APIL has responded to a consultation on amending the Civil Procedure Rules. The plans would allow non-parties to obtain skeleton arguments, witness statements and expert reports from cases without the court’s permission, unless a relevant party makes an application for an order to restrict access. Medical records would not be released.


“There should not be a blanket approach to disclosure. Cases need to be assessed individually to ensure there is a balance between the principles of open justice and the need to protect the privacy and rights of individuals involved in proceedings,” said Kim Harrison, vice president of APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers).


“In particular, vulnerable parties and children must be protected from having personal or sensitive details released publicly, so as not to add to their pain and suffering when they have turned to the courts for redress,” she went on.


“Open justice is vital to ensure transparency and accountability in the legal system. But there needs to be a balance between this and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act in relation to people’s rights to respect for their private and family life,” she said.


“Proceedings involving sexual abuse are generally subject to anonymity orders, so the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) must explain how non-party access to court documents would work in these cases,” said Kim.


The proposals will also create a huge workload because documents will have to be thoroughly checked so confidential, and highly personal and sensitive information is not included in anything released to non-parties, says APIL.


“If lawyers are to carry out this work, it will create a substantial cost associated with redacting information from documents that should not be in the public scope. It will be extremely time consuming to ensure there is no data breach to a party’s confidential information.


“Similarly, if court staff are to be responsible for redactions in documents, they will be swamped with work. Injured people are already enduring severe delays to their county court cases due to under-staffing and major funding shortages,” she added.


The proposals come after a report was presented to the CPRC in December following the Supreme Court’s judgment in Cape v Dring, which called for more access to documents in the interests of open justice.



Notes to editors:

  • The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is a not-for-profit organisation, formed by claimant lawyers, which has campaigned for the rights of victims of negligence for more than 30 years. APIL’s vision is of a society without needless injury but, when people are injured, a society which offers the justice they need to rebuild their lives. Members include solicitors, barristers, legal executives and academics.
  • Any queries about this press release should be directed to APIL’s press and communications officer Julie Crouch on t: 07808 768623, e: [email protected] or communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 07541 490 988 e: [email protected].
  • Follow @APIL on X: https://X.com/APIL and on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/association-of-personal-injury-lawyers.
  • Link to APIL’s response to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee Access to Court Documents by Non-Parties.

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Head of Campaigns and Communications
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