Block continues on court documents

 

Court moves last week which blocked the implementation of new rules which would have given retrospective access to countless court documents have been continued for 28 days.

After a morning of legal argument Mr Justice Keith granted a declaration which will hold the ring until 2 November to give the solicitors governing body, the Law Society, the Department of Constitutional Affairs and lawyers representing various media interests an opportunity to try and settle the matter by agreement.

The Law Society has opposed the new rules which it claims unfairly give the right of retrospective access to documents issued at a time when no such access was available.

The new rules which were drawn up by the Rule Committee of the Department of Constitutional Affairs were scheduled to come into force on 2 October. However, last Friday the Law Society obtained an emergency court order blocking the new rules.

Today in a case in which Andrew Caldecott QC for the media interests said the case raised "important issues" the judge ruled, more or less by the agreement of the parties, that the matter should be put on hold for four weeks.

He had been told that attempts will be made in that time to reach agreement on what should happen next.

However, he also ruled that if agreement cannot be reached then there should be a full hearing on 2 November at which the court will decide what should be done in view of the new rules.

After the hearing this morning journalist Sarah Limbrick who was one of those consulted on the rule changes and who specialises in producing stories based on court writs said : "The good news is that the new rules apply to any claims issued after 2 October. This merely blocks access to additional information on claims issued prior to then.

"Hopefully the matter will be settled by agreement before 2 November. If not then hopefully we shall get an early ruling from the court on what should happen. It is a matter which desperately needs clarifying."

 

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