By: 3 May 2024
Personal injury lawyers concerned over access to court documents

APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) has voiced concerns over proposals to grant non-parties access to court documents in civil proceedings.

The plans, subject to consultation on amending the civil procedure rules, would enable non-parties to obtain certain documents without requiring court permission, except where a relevant party seeks to restrict access. However, APIL argues that such access should be granted on a case-by-case basis to safeguard individuals’ rights.


Kim Harrison, vice president of APIL, emphasised the importance of assessing cases individually to strike a balance between open justice and privacy rights.

“There should not be a blanket approach to disclosure,” she stated, highlighting the need to shield vulnerable parties and children from public exposure that could exacerbate their suffering.

The principle of open justice is paramount, acknowledges Harrison, but must be harmonised with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which protects individuals’ right to privacy and family life. Notably, proceedings involving sensitive matters like sexual abuse often entail anonymity orders, posing a challenge for implementing non-party access.

APIL also raised practical concerns about the workload associated with ensuring confidentiality. Harrison cautioned that the proposal would burden lawyers and court staff with the meticulous task of redacting sensitive information, potentially prolonging case delays and exacerbating existing staffing and funding shortages.


The driving force behind these proposals stems from a report presented to the civil procedure rule committee (CPRC) following the supreme court’s judgment in Cape v Dring. The judgment underscored the importance of facilitating broader access to court documents in the pursuit of open justice.

As talks continue, finding the right balance between letting people know what happens in court and maintaining privacy is a big topic. APIL’s opinion shows how difficult it is to figure out these problems while still making sure everyone is treated fairly and their privacy is respected.


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Emma Cockings
Emma is a content editor for Claims Media. Emma is a experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury for a major firm. She has attended and reported on multiple brokerage events throughout her career.