Durham County Council v Dunn: CA 13 Dec 2012

The claimant wished to begin a claim alleging historic sexual abuse while he had been at an institution run by the defendants. The claimant sought pre-trial disclosure of various documents and the court now considered the principle applicable, and in particular the roles of Data Protection law and the Civil Procedure Rules.
Held: The Council’s appeal against an order for disclosure failed. Appropriate measures can and should be taken to protect the identities of uninvolved third parties.
Maurice Kay LJ VP described the approach required: ‘ First, obligations in relation to disclosure and inspection arise only when the relevance test is satisfied. Relevance can include ‘train of inquiry’ points which are not merely fishing expeditions. This is a matter of fact, degree and proportionality. Secondly, if the relevance test is satisfied, it is for the party or person in possession of the document or who would be adversely affected by its disclosure or inspection to assert exemption from disclosure or inspection. Thirdly, any ensuing dispute falls to be determined ultimately by a balancing exercise, having regard to the fair trial rights of the party seeking disclosure or inspection and the privacy or confidentiality rights of the other party and any person whose rights may require protection. It will generally involve a consideration of competing ECHR rights. Fourthly, the denial of disclosure or inspection is limited to circumstances where such denial is strictly necessary. Fifthly, in some cases the balance may need to be struck by a limited or restricted order which respects a protected interest by such things as redaction, confidentiality rings, anonymity in the proceedings or other such order. Again, the limitation or restriction must satisfy the test of strict necessity.’

Maurice Kay LJ VP, Munby LJ, Tomlinson LJ
[2012] EWCA Civ 1654
Civil Procedure Rules 31, Data Protection Act 1998 1
England and Wales
CitedIn re R (Care: disclosure: nature of proceedings) FD 2002
In care proceedings, unproved allegations of harm were abandoned, before being rejected by the court. The threshold criteria were satisfied on a different ground, namely, neglect and emotional harm.
Held: As matters stood the local authority . .
CitedIn re D (Infants) CA 1970
D was in the care of a local authority. Wardship proceedings were under way. At first instance, Whitfor J had granted an order that the authority should disclose their records held under the 1955 Regulations. The authority appealed.
Held: The . .
CitedAl 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 . .
CitedGaskin v Liverpool City Council CA 1980
The plaintiff, who had been in the care of the respondent authority as a child, brought proceedings against the local authority for negligence in their care of him. His application for disclosure of the case notes and records of his period in care . .
CitedGaskin v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Jul-1989
The applicant complained of ill-treatment while he was in the care of a local authority and living with foster parents. He sought access to his case records held by the local authority but his request was denied.
Held: The refusal to allow him . .
CitedRegina v Hampshire County Council ex parte K and Another 1-Nov-1989
Application was made for the disclosure of a local authorities social worker records, during the course of care proceedings after allegations of secual abuse had been made against the parents.
Held: The court must look to the interests of the . .
CitedRe M (A Minor) (Disclosure of Material) CA 1990
A child was made subject of wardship application after her half sister made allegations of sexual abuse against their father. In dealing with these proceedings, he sought disclosure of the records prepared by the social workers in the first case. He . .
CitedMcMichael v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Mar-1995
In the course of care proceedings, medical and social services’ reports were disclosed to the courts, but not to the parents involved.
Held: The courts’ failure to show reports to the parents in care proceedings was a breach of the Convention. . .
CitedTP And KM v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-May-2001
The Grand Chamber found a violation of Articles 8 and 13 and awarded each applicant GBP 10,000 in respect of a separation which lasted a year. Article 8 imposes positive obligations of disclosure on a local authority involved in care proceedings: . .
CitedIn re R (Care: disclosure: nature of proceedings) FD 2002
In care proceedings, unproved allegations of harm were abandoned, before being rejected by the court. The threshold criteria were satisfied on a different ground, namely, neglect and emotional harm.
Held: As matters stood the local authority . .
CitedRe B (Disclosure to other parties) FD 2001
There was a dispute as to whether one of the fathers involved in the proceedings should have access to certain documents, including psychiatric reports, relating to the mother, her husband and the children. Munby J considered the effect of human . .
CitedA Mother v A Father; A Local Authority v A CA 14-Oct-2009
Care proceedings were under way. The mother objected to the disclosure of certain materials to the father, saying that they were extremely sensitive, and would threaten her relationship with him. She appealed against an order allowing it.
CitedA Health Authority v X (Discovery: Medical Conduct) FD 2001
There is a compelling public interest in authorising the disclosure of documents to the General Medical Council if they ‘are or may be relevant to the General Medical Council carrying out its statutory duties to protect the public against possible . .
CitedRe L (Care: Assessment: Fair Trial) FD 2002
The court emphasised the need, in the interests not merely of the parent but also of the child, of a transparently fair and open procedure at all stages of the care process, including the making of documents openly available to parents.
Munby . .

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Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.467100