When can a Closed Material Procedure be used?

“As Mr Eadie recognises, there is a paradox here. The effect of the extension of the JSA 2013 to proceedings such as these is that the executive, in the form of the prosecuting authorities, can be held to account by judicial process. What is described by the Claimants as an encroachment on their fundamental rights in fact enfranchises informed and detailed scrutiny by the Courts, which would otherwise be impossible.”

UK Human Rights Blog

padlockBelhaj and Boudchar v. Director of Public Prosecutions (Foreign Secretary intervening) [2017] EWHC 3056 (Admin) – read judgment here.

The Justice and Security Act 2013 introduced the idea of Closed Material Proceedings (CMP) to civil litigation in a significant way for the first time. This is a procedure (which had previously only used in a small number of specialist tribunals) whereby all or part of a claim can be heard in closed proceedings in order for the court to consider material which, if disclosed publicly, would risk harming national security. These hearings exclude even the claimant, who is represented instead by a Special Advocate who takes instructions and then is unable to speak to his or her client again once they have seen the sensitive material.

This system is obviously far from ideal. Indeed it is a major deviation from the usual (and very important) principle that justice must…

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