ABC Ltd v Y: ChD 6 Dec 2010

There had been proceedings as to the misuse of confidential information. X, a non-party, now sought disclosure of papers used in that case. The case had been settled by means of a Tomlin Schedule, and that, subject to further order, non-parties might not obtain documents on the court file.
Held: The applicant X was entitled to access a full copy of the Consent Order, but not the Schedule to it nor any of the other documents sought.
The court may not restrict disclosure of a public judgment or order. A party paying the fee can have a copy. The court’s power to restrict disclosure of documents on the court file applies only to statements of case.
However, the third party’s entitlement was to a copy only of the order as it existed on the court file. Since the Schedule was not filed at court, there was no entitlement to a copy of the Schedule.
However, where documents have been read out to the court in delivering judgment or otherwise at a public hearing, the principle of open justice means that if the applicant can show a ‘legitimate interest’ in having access, the court should lean in favour of disclosure.
Where the court has restricted access to documents on the court file or the documents in question were filed for a private hearing, the proper test was whether there are ‘strong grounds for thinking that it is necessary in the interests of justice’ for the documents to be disclosed.


Lewison J


[2010] EWHC 3176 (Ch), [2011] 4 All ER 113, [2012] 1 WLR 532




Civil Procedure Rules 5.4C, European Convention on Human Rights 6


England and Wales


CitedScott v Scott HL 5-May-1913
Presumption in Favour of Open Proceedings
There had been an unauthorised dissemination by the petitioner to third parties of the official shorthand writer’s notes of a nullity suit which had been heard in camera. An application was made for a committal for contempt.
Held: The House . .
CitedHodgson and others v Imperial Tobacco Limited Gallagher Limited etc CA 12-Feb-1998
A large number of plaintiffs brought actions against the defendants, three tobacco companies, claiming damages for personal injuries by reason of cancer which they claimed was caused by smoking cigarettes manufactured by the defendants. A hearing . .
CitedRegina v Legal Aid Board ex parte Kaim Todner (a Firm of Solicitors) CA 10-Jun-1998
Limitation on Making of Anonymity Orders
A firm of solicitors sought an order for anonymity in their proceedings against the LAB, saying that being named would damage their interests irrespective of the outcome.
Held: The legal professions have no special part in the law as a party . .
CitedChan U Seek v Alvis Vehicles Ltd ChD 8-Dec-2004
A newspaper, not party to the proceedings, sought access to the Court files, anticipating a significant journalistic story.
Held: Park J allowed the application for copies of certain pleadings and witness statements that had been placed before . .
CitedDian AO v Davis Frankel and Mead 2005
Moore-Bick J discussed the principle of open justice, saying that the highest importance was to be attached to the principle and that it was for that reason that in ‘all but exceptional cases’ hearings are conducted in public, judgment is delivered . .
CitedCleveland Bridge UK Ltd v Multiplex Constructions (UK) Ltd TCC 31-Aug-2005
A third party television company sought access to the particulars of claim and other pleadings.
Held: HH Judge Wilcox said: ‘There can be no legitimate distinction drawn between decisions made in interlocutory proceedings and those at final . .
CitedTaranissi, Regina (on the Application of) v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Admn 14-Jan-2009
The BBC sought permission to inspect a class of documents on the court file in judicial review proceedings. The reason for the application was that the documents were likely to contain information relevant to a libel action in which Mr Taranissi was . .
CitedG and G v Wikimedia Foundation Inc QBD 2-Dec-2009
The claimants sought an order that the defendants, an internet company in Florida, should disclose the IP address of a registered user of the site with a view to identifying the user and pursuing an action against him or her.
Held: Tugendhat J . .
CitedGray v UVW QBD 21-Oct-2010
Application was made for the name of the defendant not to be published.
Held: To the extent that a claimant seeks an order for the anonymisation of any reports of the SOPO proceedings, then that jurisdiction derives from section 6(1) of the . .
CitedJIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 5-Nov-2010
The court was asked as to the circumstances under which the identity of a claimant should be protected in an action where he sought to restrain the publication of private information about him.
Held: Tugendhat J accepted the proposition . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Human Rights

Updated: 27 September 2022; Ref: scu.426850