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High Court rules against wider non-party access in Dring v Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd [2020]

The Supreme Court ("SC") had found that the term "records of the court " in CPR 5.4C did not denote an exhaustive list of documents that could be the subject of an application for access by a non-party to proceedings. In essence, the SC held that the court deciding the application has wide discretion as to which documents could be accessed by the non-party applicant.

The judgment was regarded as a victory for the principle of open justice.  The default position is that the public should be granted access to any documents that have been placed before the court and referred to at the hearing, but the applicant will still need to demonstrate that granting access would advance the open justice principle. The SC also made quite plain that the CPR are a minimum and the courts have inherent jurisdiction to grant access outside the rules if there is a good case for doing so.

However, the SC referred the case back to the High Court to decide on which documents the applicant should be granted access to in this case.  Picken J delivered his judgment on the matter on 16 July 2020 refusing access to the additional documents that had been sought, on the basis that granting access to those documents would not have advanced the principle of open justice.

Non-party refused access to further trial documents as merely seeking to deploy them in other litigation was not advancing open justice principle (High Court)


open justice, non-party access