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 equated the contempt to a breach of an injunction and held that the Court had jurisdiction to make a punitive order.
The House emphasised the need in general for the openness in court proceedings, leading to a presumption in favour of publication. There was however an exception for cases involving children. Because matrimonial proceedings ‘affect status’, the public has a general interest which the parties cannot exclude.
Lord Shaw of Dunfermline explained the reasons for privacy in wardship proceedings: ‘Upon this head it is true that to the application of the general rule of publicity there are three well recognized exceptions which arise out of the nature of the proceedings themselves.
The three exceptions which are acknowledged to the application of the rule prescribing the publicity of courts of justice are first in suits affecting wards; secondly in lunacy proceedings; and thirdly where secrecy . . is of the essence of the cause. The first two of these cases, my Lords, depend upon the familiar principle that the jurisdiction over wards and lunatics is exercised by the judges representing His Majesty as parens patriae. The affairs are truly private affairs; the transactions are transactions truly intra familiam; and it has long been recognised that an appeal for the protection of the court in the case of such persons does not involve the consequence of placing in the light of publicity their truly domestic affairs . . But I desire to add this further observation with regard to all these cases, my Lords, that, when respect has thus been paid to the object of the suit, the rule of publicity may be resumed. I know of no principle which would entitle a court to compel a ward to remain silent for life in regard to judicial proceedings which occurred during his tutelage’ and
‘There is no greater danger of usurpation than that which proceeds little by little, under cover of rules of procedure and at the instance of judges themselves.’ and ‘The policy of widening the area of secrecy is always a serious one; but this is for Parliament, and those to whom the subject has been consigned by Parliament, to consider.’
Lord Shaw of Dunfermline also observed: ‘It is needless to quote authority on this topic from legal, philosophical, or historical writers. It moves Bentham over and over again. ‘In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice’. ‘Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial’. ‘The security of securities is publicity’. But amongst historians the grave and enlightened verdict of Hallam, in which he ranks the publicity of judicial proceedings even higher than the rights of Parliament as a guarantee of public security, is not likely to be forgotten: ‘Civil liberty in this kingdom has two direct guarantees; the open administration of justice according to known laws truly interpreted, and fair constructions of evidence; and the right of Parliament, without let or interruption, to inquire into, and obtain redress of, public grievances. Of these, the first is by far the most indispensable; nor can the subjects of any State be reckoned to enjoy a real freedom, where this condition is not found both in its judicial institutions and in their constant exercise.’ I myself should be very slow indeed (I shall speak of the exceptions hereafter) to throw any doubt upon this topic. The right of the citizen and the working of the Constitution in the sense which I have described have upon the whole since the fall of the Stuart dynasty received from the judiciary – and they appear to me still to demand of it – a constant and most watchful respect. There is no greater danger of usurpation than that which proceeds little by little, under cover of rules of procedure, and at the instance of judges themselves. I must say frankly that I think these encroachments have taken place by way of judicial procedure in such a way as, insensibly at first, but now culminating in this decision most sensibly, to impair the rights, safety, and freedom of the citizen and the open administration of the law.’
Earl Loreburn said: ‘In all cases where the public has been excluded with admitted propriety the underlying principle, as it seems to me, is that the administration of justice would be rendered impracticable by their presence, whether because the case could not be effectively tried, or the parties entitled to justice would be reasonably deterred from seeking it at the hands of the Court.’ and ‘the Divorce Court is bound by the general rule of publicity applicable to the High Court and subject to the same exception.’
Viscount Haldane LC said: ‘As to the proposition that the Divorce Court has inherited the power to hear in camera of the Ecclesiastical Courts, I am of opinion that, since the Divorce Act of 1857, it has been untrue of every class of case, and not merely of suits for divorce strictly so called. I am in accord with the reasoning of Bramwell B, in the case I have already referred to [H (Falsely Called C) v C (1859) 29 LJ (PandM) 29], which led him to the conclusion that the Court which the statute constituted is a new Court governed by the same principles, so far as publicity is concerned, as govern other Courts’ and ”While the broad principle is that the Courts of this country must, as between parties, administer justice in public, this principle is subject to apparent exceptions, such as those to which I have referred. But the exceptions are themselves the outcome of a yet more fundamental principle that the chief object of courts of justice must be to secure that justice is done. As the paramount object must always be to do justice, the general rule as to publicity, after all only the means to an end, must accordingly yield. But the burden lies on those seeking to displace its application in a particular case to make out that the ordinary rule must as of necessity be superseded by this paramount consideration. I think that to justify an order for hearing in camera it must be shown that the paramount object of securing that justice is done would really be rendered doubtful of attainment if the order were not made. ‘
and ‘in all cases where the public has been excluded with admitted propriety the underlying principle, as it seems to me, is that the administration of justice would be rendered impracticable by their presence, whether because the case could not be effectively tried, or the parties entitled to justice would be reasonably deterred from seeking it at the hands of the Court.’
Lord Atkinson said: ‘The hearing of a case in public may be, and often is, no doubt, painful, humiliating, or deterrent both to parties and witnesses, and in many cases, especially those of a criminal nature, the details may be so indecent as to tend to injure public morals, but all this is tolerated and endured, because it is felt that in public trial is to found, on the whole, the best security for the pure, impartial, and efficient administration of justice, the best means for winning for it public confidence and respect.’
Lord Shaw of Dunfermline, Viscount Haldane LC, Lord Loreburn, Lord Atkinson
 P 241,  AC 417, 29 TLR 520, [1911-13] All ER 1,  UKHL 2
Divorce Act 1857 45
England and Wales
Cited – Rex v Clement CEC 1821
After the trial for high treason of those involved in the Cato Street Conspiracy in 1820, Clement, the editor of a newspaper was punished for contempt. There had been a series of trials, but the judge said they had to be treated as one set of . .
Cited – Skipworth’s Case, Onslow v Skipworth; Regina v Castro 1873
The Attorney-General proceeded against the respondent for contempt, at the request of the Court, and ‘as the representative of the profession’. A contempt may be severe where an insult is offered in court to the judge who presides, or where a . .
Cited – Allan v Clibbery (1) CA 30-Jan-2002
Save in cases involving children and ancillary and other situations requiring it, cases in the family division were not inherently private. The appellant failed to obtain an order that details of an action under the section should not be disclosed . .
Cited – Attorney-General v Leveller Magazine Ltd HL 1-Feb-1979
The appellants were magazines and journalists who published, after committal proceedings, the name of a witness, a member of the security services, who had been referred to as Colonel B during the hearing. An order had been made for his name not to . .
Cited – Re S (A Child) CA 10-Jul-2003
The mother of the child on behalf of whom the application was made, was to face trial for murder. The child was in care and an order was sought to restrain publiction of material which might reveal his identity, including matters arising during the . .
Cited – Moscow City Council v Bankers Trust Company and Another QBD 5-Jun-2003
Proceedings before an arbitrator were governed by rule 62.10, which provided its own entire code, and imposed a presumption in favour of privacy. The principles of Scott v Scott need not apply. Scott would now be decided under analogous reasonings . .
Cited – Kent County Council v The Mother, The Father, B (By Her Children’s Guardian); Re B (A Child) (Disclosure) FD 19-Mar-2004
The council had taken the applicant’s children into care alleging that the mother had harmed them. In the light of the subsequent cases casting doubt on such findings, the mother sought the return of her children. She applied now that the hearings . .
Cited – Independent Publishing Company Limited v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, The Director of Public Prosecutions PC 8-Jun-2004
PC (Trinidad and Tobago) The newspapers had been accused of contempt of court having reported matters in breach of court orders, and the editors committed to prison after a summary hearing: ‘In deciding whether . .
Cited – Pelling v Bruce-Williams, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs intervening CA 5-Jul-2004
The applicant sought an order that his application for a joint residence order should be held in public.
Held: Though there was some attractiveness in the applicant’s arguments, the issue had been fully canvassed by the ECHR. The time had come . .
Cited – Regina 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 . .
Cited – Regina v Westminster City Council Ex Parte Castelli QBD 14-Aug-1995
An applicant, who was HIV positive, wished his identity to be concealed.
Held: Some publicity had already occurred A Contempt of Court anonymity order was not to be used to protect a litigant’s privacy. . .
Cited – In re S (a Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) HL 28-Oct-2004
Inherent High Court power may restrain Publicity
The claimant child’s mother was to be tried for the murder of his brother by poisoning with salt. It was feared that the publicity which would normally attend a trial, would be damaging to S, and an application was made for reporting restrictions to . .
Cited – In re F (otherwise A ) (A Minor) (Publication of Information) CA 1977
An allegation of contempt was made in proceedings related to the publication by a newspaper of extracts from a report by a social worker and a report by the Official Solicitor, both prepared after the commencement and for the purpose of the wardship . .
Cited – Bennett v Officers A and B and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis CA 2-Nov-2004
Police Officers had been involved in a shooting in which a man died. They were granted anonymity before the coroner’s court, on evidence suggesting they might be at risk. The family of the deceased appealed.
Held: The coroner misdirected . .
Cited – Home Office v Hariette Harman HL 11-Feb-1982
The defendant had permitted a journalist to see documents revealed to her as in her capacity as a solicitor in the course of proceedings.
Held: The documents were disclosed under an obligation to use them for the instant case only. That rule . .
Discussed – Regina v Chief Registrar Friendly Societies, ex parte Newcross Building Society 1984
Cited – Three Rivers District Council and others v The Bank of England CA 14-Jul-2005
A long hearing was to be interrupted by the long vacation. The Bank sought an order to restrict publication of the part evidence given by one witness until his evidence had been concluded.
Held: Though the witness was only such and not a . .
Cited – A Local Authority v W L W T and R; In re W (Children) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) FD 14-Jul-2005
An application was made by a local authority to restrict publication of the name of a defendant in criminal proceedings in order to protect children in their care. The mother was accused of having assaulted the second respondent by knowingly . .
Cited – British Broadcasting Company v Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and X and Y FD 24-Nov-2005
Application was made by the claimant for orders discharging an order made in 1991 to protect the identity of children and social workers embroiled in allegations of satanic sex abuse. The defendant opposed disclosure of the names of two social . .
Cited – Clayton v Clayton CA 27-Jun-2006
The family had been through protracted family law proceedings and had been subject to orders restricting identification. The father now wanted to discuss his experiences and to campaign. He could not do so without his child being identified.
Cited – Norfolk County Council v Webster and others FD 1-Nov-2006
The claimants wished to claim that they were victims of a miscarriage of justice in the way the Council had dealt with care proceedings. They sought that the proceedings should be reported without the children being identified.
Held: A judge . .
Cited – Re X (Disclosure of Information) FD 2001
There cannot be an expectation that expert evidence given in a children’s court will always stay confidential. The various aspects of confidentiality will have greater or lesser weight on the facts of each case. Munby J: ‘Wrapped up in this concept . .
Cited – Lord Browne of Madingley v Associated Newspapers Ltd CA 3-Apr-2007
The appellant sought to restrict publication by the defendants in the Mail on Sunday of matters which he said were a breach of confidence. He had lied to a court in giving evidence, whilst at the same time being ready to trash the reputation of his . .
Cited – Aziz v Aziz and others CA 11-Jul-2007
The claimant sought return of recordings and of money paid to the defendant through an alleged fraud or threats. She was the former wife of the Sultan of Brunei and head of state, who now sought an order requiring the court to protect his identity . .
Cited – LM, Re (Reporting Restrictions; Coroner’s Inquest) FD 1-Aug-2007
A child had died. In earlier civil proceedings, the court had laid responsibility with the mother. Restrictions had been placed on the information which would effectively prevent the coroner conducting his inquest. The coroner sought a lifting of . .
Cited – Regina v Davis HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant had been tried for the murder of two men by shooting them at a party. He was identified as the murderer by three witnesses who had been permitted to give evidence anonymously, from behind screens, because they had refused, out of fear, . .
Cited – Murungaru v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others CA 12-Sep-2008
The claimant was a former Kenyan minister. He had been visiting the UK for medical treatment. His visas were cancelled on the basis that his presence was not conducive to the public good. Public Interest Immunity certificates had been issued to . .
Cited – Times Newspapers Ltd and others v Regina and others CMAC 24-Oct-2008
Anonymity not to be by secret trial
The newspaper appealed against an order for the defendant soldiers’ trial to be held in camera.
Held: Section 94(2) could not be used to provide anonymity. The court relied on its common law powers under which: ‘for us to be entitled to make . .
Cited – Times Newspapers Ltd and others v Soldier B CACD 24-Oct-2008
(Court’s Martial Appeal Court) The newspaper appealed against an order under section 94 of the 1955 Act restricting the identification of the defendants. The judge had said there would be a threat to both the safety of the defendants and as to the . .
Cited – Mohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 4) Admn 4-Feb-2009
In an earlier judgment, redactions had been made relating to reports by the US government of its treatment of the claimant when held by them at Guantanamo bay. The claimant said he had been tortured and sought the documents to support his defence of . .
Cited – Child X (Residence and Contact- Rights of Media Attendance) (Rev 2) FD 14-Jul-2009
The father applied to the court to have the media excluded from the hearing into the residence and contact claims relating to his daughter.
Held: It was for the party seeking such an order to justify it. In deciding whether or not to exclude . .
Cited – Al Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others QBD 18-Nov-2009
The claimants sought damages from the defendants saying that they had been held and ill treated at various detention centres by foreign authorities, but with the involvement of the defendants. The defendants sought to bring evidence before the court . .
Cited – Doctor A and Others v Ward and Another FD 8-Jan-2010
Parents wished to publicise the way care proceedings had been handled, naming the doctors, social workers and experts some of whom had been criticised. Their names had been shown as initials so far, and interim contra mundum orders had been made . .
Cited – Al Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others CA 4-May-2010
Each claimant had been captured and mistreated by the US government, and claimed the involvement in and responsibility for that mistreatment by the respondents. The court was asked whether a court in England and Wales, in the absence of statutory . .
Cited – Harper and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Aldershot Magistrates Court Admn 8-Jun-2010
Police defendants not to have addresses withheld
The defendants, senior police officers were accused of misconduct in public office, being said to have sought improperly to interfere in prosecutions for speeding. They appealed against refusal by the magistrates to have their addresses protected. . .
Cited – JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd CA 31-Jan-2011
Principles on Request for Anonymity Order
The defendant appealed against an order granting the anonymisation of the proceeedings.
Held: The critical question is whether there is sufficient general public interest in publishing a report of proceedings which identifies a party by name, . .
Cited – Al Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others SC 13-Jul-2011
The claimant pursued a civil claim for damages, alleging complicity of the respondent in his torture whilst in the custody of foreign powers. The respondent sought that certain materials be available to the court alone and not to the claimant or the . .
Cited – Guardian News and Media Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court CA 3-Apr-2012
The newspaper applied for leave to access documents referred to but not released during the course of extradition proceedings in open court.
Held: The application was to be allowed. Though extradition proceedings were not governed by the Civil . .
Cited – Pressdram Ltd v Whyte ChD 30-May-2012
The respondent had been involved in company director disqualification proceedings some 12 years earlier. The claimant, publisher of Private Eye sought disclosure of the associated court papers.
Held: The applicant had provided appropriate . .
Cited – Chan v Alvis Vehicles Ltd and Another ChD 8-Dec-2004
The parties had had a part trial, and settled. The Gardian Newspaper now applied for disclosure of various documents to support a proposed news story. The parties had disputed payment to the claimant of commissions on the sales of military vehicles . .
Cited – 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 . .
Cited – MX v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Others CA 17-Feb-2015
Application was made for approval of a compromise of a claim for damages for personal injury for the child. The court now considered whether an order should be made to protect the identity of the six year old claimant.
Held: An order should . .
Cited – H v A (No2) FD 17-Sep-2015
The court had previously published and then withdrawn its judgment after third parties had been able to identify those involved by pulling together media and internet reports with the judgment.
Held: The judgment case should be published in . .
Cited – A v British Broadcasting Corporation (Scotland) SC 8-May-2014
Anonymised Party to Proceedings
The BBC challenged an order made by the Court of Session in judicial review proceedings, permitting the applicant review to delete his name and address and substituting letters of the alphabet, in the exercise (or, as the BBC argues, purported . .
Cited – PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others SC 19-Jul-2017
No anonymity for investigation suspect
The claimant had been investigated on an allegation of historic sexual abuse. He had never been charged, but the investigation had continued with others being convicted in a high profile case. He appealed from refusal of orders restricting . .
Cited – Regina (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 27-Jan-2016
The applicant was a convicted murderer who had been held in a high security mental hospital. His application for unescorted leave had been refused, and he wished to challenge the decisions. Anonymity in the subsequent proceedings had been refused to . .
Cited – Sarker, Regina v CACD 13-Jun-2018
The defendant was to face trial under the 2006 Act. He applied for an order under section 4(2) of the 1981 Act postponing the reporting of the proceedings on the grounds that knowledge by the jury of the inquiry and police investigation would be . .
Cited – Storer v British Gas plc CA 25-Feb-2000
An industrial tribunal hearing conducted behind the locked doors of the chairman’s office was not held in public, even if, in fact, no member of the public was prevented from attending. The obligation to sit in public was fundamental, and the . .
Cited – Miller, Regina (on the Application of) v The Prime Minister; Cherry QC v Lord Advocate SC 24-Sep-2019
Prerogative act of prorogation was justiciable.
The Prime Minister had prorogued Parliament for a period of five weeks, leaving only a short time for Parliament to debate and act the forthcoming termination of the membership by the UK of the EU. The Scottish Court had decided (Cherry) that the . .
Cited – XXX v Camden London Borough Council CA 11-Nov-2020
Anonymity in Court Proceedings – No two stage test
XXX appealed against the refusal to make orders anonymising her name and redacting certain details from published judgments. The appeal raised a point about the proper approach to applications for anonymisation under CPR 39.2. She brought . .
Cited – Imam, Regina (on The Application of) v The London Borough of Croydon (Anonymity request) Admn 26-Mar-2021
Anonymity Not Necessary under CPR 3.92.
Judgment on the Claimant’s application for an order under CPR 39.2(4) that her name be anonymised in these proceedings by the use of a cipher and that restrictions should be imposed on the reporting of her identity. She said that publication of her . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Media, Administrative, Children, Contempt of Court, Constitutional
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.182846