L v The Law Society: CA 10 Jun 2008

The claimant had been removed from the roll of student members of the Law Society, and wished his appeal to be heard in private.
Held: It is only in a rare case that it is appropriate to hold a hearing of this kind in private.
As to the 1974 Act, the court said: ‘The contention that the 1974 Act renders spent convictions confidential misunderstands the Act’s intention and its ambit. If it were to render spent convictions confidential it would have (as it were) to seal that part of an individual’s criminal record such that no-one except perhaps the individual concerned had access to it. It does not do so.
It would also have to render private convictions that were matters of public record and may well have been, as in this case, reported in the press. Notwithstanding the obvious practical difficulty of rendering secret a public judgment which had been freely and properly reported in the press, the Act does not purport to have that effect and does not, in my opinion, do so. It simply ensures, for instance, that an individual cannot be questioned about such convictions in defined contexts or be prejudiced if details of the spent convictions come to the attention of a current employer during the course of that employment. As Maurice Kay J held in R (Pearson) v DVLA [2002] EWHC 2482 (Admin) at 15, with which I agree, ‘The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act confers certain privileges . . It does not attempt to go beyond the grant of those limited privileges to provide a right of confidentiality in respect of spent convictions. While the 1974 Act in some respects may place an individual with spent convictions in the same position as someone with no convictions, it does not do so by rendering the convictions confidential; it does so simply by putting in place a regime which protects an individual from being prejudiced by the existence of such convictions. For these reasons I reject the submission that the 1974 Act renders the appellant’s convictions confidential.’
[2008] EWCA Civ 811
Master of the Rolls (Appeals and Applications) Regulations 2001, Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedKJO v XIM QBD 7-Jul-2011
The claimant had, some 20 years previously, been convicted and sentenced for forgery of a will. The defendants, relatives, had ever since written to those with whom he had dealings to tell them of the conviction and facts. The claimant, unable to . .

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Updated: 09 June 2021; Ref: scu.270700