Open Up! Access to Upper Tribunal Files – Panopticon

Posted April 25th, 2018 in disclosure, news, third parties, tribunals by sally

‘The Upper Tribunal has its own rules. It is not governed by the CPR. Inevitably, this leaves some gaps on occasion. One of those which occasionally puzzles people interested in the system is that there is no equivalent to CPR rule 5.4C, which allows non-parties the right to ask to see the court file. So can a non-party get access to an Upper Tribunal file, whether or not the material has been referred to in an open hearing?Yes, said the Tax and Chancery Chamber of the Upper Tribunal in Aria Technology Ltd v HMRC & Situation Publishing [2018] UKUT 111 (TCC). Although there was no specific power given in the Rules to disclose documents to non-parties upon request, there was nothing to prohibit it either. The provisions of rule 14(8) – which allows a party to seek a direction preventing disclosure – implicitly recognises a power to disclose. Indeed, Judge Sinfield went further. Applying the open justice principle as set out in no uncertain terms in R (Guardian News and Media Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2012] EWCA Civ 420, the Upper Tribunal had an inherent power and indeed a common law duty to consider any request for access to or disclosure of the court file, including material not referred to in open court.’

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Panopticon, 25th April 2018