Legislative Scrutiny: Justice and Security Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

5  Freedom of the media and public trust in the judiciary

107.  In our Report on the Green Paper we expressed our concern about the effect of the proposals on the media, on court reporting and on public trust and confidence in the judiciary.[73] The Government's main substantive response to these concerns was in relation to the accessibility of closed judgments for special advocates. The Government said that by the end of the summer there would be in place a closed database of head notes of closed judgments. Otherwise, the Government's response to our concerns was to disagree that the proposals caused concerns about the transparency and public trust in the system. The Government believed that the proposals would "enhance transparency and public trust, not undermine it".[74] We are much less sanguine and would prefer to see provision in the Bill to address what we consider to be very serious concerns about the impact of the Bill on the freedom of the media and public confidence in the administration of justice.

108.  We recommend that the Bill be amended to require rules of court to provide that the media be notified of any application for closed material procedures to be used, to ensure an opportunity for the media to make representations on that question, and to provide a mechanism for a party to apply for a closed judgment to become an open judgment.

109.  The following amendment would give effect to this recommendation:

Clause 10, Page 7, line 15, after sub-clause (2) insert new sub-clause—

'( ) Rules of court relating to section 6 proceedings must make provision

(a)  requiring the court concerned to notify relevant representatives of the media of proceedings in which an application for a declaration under section 6 has been made,

(b)  providing for any person notified under sub-section (a) to intervene in the proceedings,

(c)  providing for a stay or sist of relevant civil proceedings to enable anyone notified under sub-section (a) to consider whether to intervene in the proceedings,

(d)  enabling any party to the proceedings or any intervener to apply to the court concerned for a determination of whether there continues to be justification for not giving full particulars of the reasons for decisions in the proceedings, and

  1. requiring the court concerned, on an application under sub-section (d), to publish such of the reasons for decision as the court determines can no longer be justifiably withheld.'

73   JCHR Report on the Green Paper, chapter 6. Back

74   Government Response to the JCHR Report, p. 15. Back

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Prepared 13 November 2012