Law Soc claims victory on disclosure rules

The Law Society is claiming victory over the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) after preventing the retrospective application of rules on disclosure of documents.

The society launched a judicial review against the DCA on 29 September following the amendment of the rules governing court disclosure to allow wider access to particulars of claim and pleadings.

Partners Keith Schilling and Gideon Benaim at media boutique Schillings instructed 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square’s Richard Spearman QC for the Law Society, arguing that the rule should not apply to cases launched before 2 October.

On 5 October Mr Justice Keith ordered an interim injunction pending the hearing of the judicial review. However, this afternoon (28 November) the Civil Procedure Rules Committee announced that the contentious rule, 5.4C, would be amended to apply only to cases filed on or after 2 October.

The DCA is also paying the Law Society’s costs.

Chief executive Desmond Hudson said the decision “entirely vindicated” the society’s decision to take legal action.

The news will come as another blow to the powerful consortium of media organisations, including Associated Newspapers, the BBC, Bloomberg, Financial Times Limited, Guardian Newspapers, Independent News and Media, Mirror Group Newspapers, NewsGroup Newspapers and Telegraph Group, which instructed One Brick Court’s Andrew Caldecott QC to fight the Law Society’s stance.

In October, The Times’ litigation head Gill Philips told The Lawyer: “This has an immediate bearing on what journalists use as an important source. There are concerns about the way this has been done.”