Reminder to practitioners – restrictions on filed material
20 June 2018
The Supreme, District and Land Courts Service reminds practitioners that the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 reflect the principle that ‘justice must not only be done but be seen to be done’ in that the rules relating to searching and copying filed documents create a very open regime.
Legislation such as that cited in Supreme Court Practice Direction 15/13 and District Court Practice Direction 13/13 (the PDs) places restrictions on what can be accessed by non-parties to proceedings.
However, thousands of documents are filed in Supreme Court and District Court registries every month so that registry staff do not have the capacity to read each document to identify whether any of these legislative restrictions apply. Similarly, large numbers of requests to search and copy documents on civil files are also received and the registry does not have the capacity to thoroughly check each document that may then be made available. For example, it is not uncommon for there to be numerous requests to search a bail application file in a high-profile case.
The PDs are designed to ensure that filed material subject to relevant legislative restrictions is managed appropriately by the registry and not made available to any person who is not a party to the action. This can become particularly pertinent in quasi-criminal proceedings in the civil jurisdiction such as applications under the Bail Act 1980.
The Supreme, District and Land Courts Service would be pleased if practitioners were aware of the PDs. In particular, practitioners lodging documents should be mindful of whether there may be legislative restrictions on accessing information and their obligation to notify registry staff at the time of filing that the material being filed is subject to a non-publication provision.
Your assistance in this matter will help to ensure that the registry can apply the necessary safeguards and prevent the inappropriate release of information.