DCA succumbs to media demands for disclosure

The rules governing the disclosure of court documents to the media and other parties are set for reform next week (2 October), making it far easier to obtain copies of particulars of claim and other pleadings.

The change to civil procedure rule (CPR) 5.4 comes a year after the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) announced that documents such as the particulars were not freely available to the media and other parties not connected with the case. Many requests made to the court for disclosure of such documents have been refused.

Publishers including Associated Newspapers, News International and Trinity Mirror formed a consortium to campaign against the change, claiming that it restricted the public’s access to information.

The revised rule will give access to the claim form, particulars of claim, defence, reply, counterclaim or other additional claim and other additional information.

Requests have to be made to the court in writing for the documents, but as long as there is no order restricting their release they will be available.