Can a court record be disclosed after the case is settled?

In a commercial case, the Guardian newspaper wanted to inspect pleadings and witness statements in a case that settled part way through the trial. The defendants opposed the application disputing whether the court had jurisdiction to grant permission on the basis that, since the case was over, “the court” no longer existed and it was impossible for permission to be given. Mr. Justice Park rejected this saying that the court still had jurisdiction under the Civil Procedure Rules to give permission for a person to obtain a copy of documents from the records of the court, which in practice meant documents off the court file.

In re Guardian Newspapers Ltd 8 December 2004. Times Law Reports

Judges bias rejected

The Court of Appeal recently held that a litigant, who had been told by the Judge before the hearing that both he and counsel appearing for the other side were members of the same barristers’ chambers, could not complain of bias if he failed to object immediately to the Judge hearing the case. Neither party had suggested that there was any reason why it would have been inappropriate for the Judge to try the case, although he expressly gave an opportunity for any objection to be raised.

In addition, the court held that the draft judgment delivered to litigants on the day of judgment was as good as a judgment signed and sealed for the purpose of enforcing it.

Birmingham City Council -v- Yardley Court of Appeal 9 December 2004. Times Law Reports.

Seeking data through the courts

An individual who was refused access under The Data Protection Act 1998 to data that he believed related to him, on the grounds that it was not personal data, could not seek access to the same data under the Civil Procedure Rules in the course of proceedings alleging breach of the 1998 Act. Mr. Justice Laddie so held when determining that the claimant, a surgeon, was entitled in principle to seek specific disclosure under Part 31 of CPR of certain documents from the defendants, the Medical Defence Union.

Johnson -v- Medical Defence Union. Chancery Division 9 November 2004 Times Law Reports.

Defendants get away with withdrawing admission

In the Newcastle County Court on an appeal from the District Judge, the court considered a case where a client had tripped over a stack of baskets in a supermarket. The insurers had admitted liability. Medical evidence had been obtained, which showed that the injury was quite significant and resulted in leg shortening.

The insurers then decided to resile from the admission of liability. They put the case in the hands of solicitors who made an application to the court. The District Judge refused to allow them to resile and refused permission to appeal. However, on appeal, Judge Walton said that the District Judge had incorrectly exercised his discretion and put too much weight on an irrelevant matter (the funding of the case), and that despite a time lag of 18 months between the admission and the letter stating they intended to resile there was no evidence of prejudice as a result of the delay, even though we confirmed on receipt of the admission that we would make no further liability enquiries.