Concerns over extending ‘Closed Material Procedures’ to civil cases

The House of Lords has began to debate the second reading of the controversial Justice and Security Bill, which introduces limited disclosure of sensitive intelligence materials in civil court cases. Under the procedures a defendant or claimant will not be permitted to see all the relevant evidence. As the House of Lords Constitution Committee has pointed out in its report, there are three principal areas of concern with proposals to extend ‘Closed Material Procedures’ (CMP) to civil cases. Firstly, the dual role of the government as both a party to the proceedings and the sole gatekeeper to the use of the CMP is “constitutionally inappropriate”. Secondly, the absence of judicial balancing is unjustified. The Committee argues that the benefits in national security in allowing the CMP must be balanced against the damage that it might cause to the public’s interest of fair administration of justice. Finally, such an action would give the Secretary of State a very controversial power to decide what evidence is available to the party bringing the litigation against the government. To read more on the Justice and Security Bill and the Committee’s Report visit http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/constitution-committee/news/justice–security-bill—publication/.

 

 


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