The Court of Appeal last week set the foundation for greater privacy for children and protected parties pursuing personal injury and clinical negligence claims.
In JXMX (by her mother and litigation friend AXMX) v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (Personal Injury Bar Association and another intervening) the Court ruled that orders relating to settlements of claims involving children or protected parties (those who lack mental capacity to conduct litigation themselves) should not name the claimants, unless it is necessary or appropriate to do so.
The position prior to this case was that those seeking anonymity had to apply to the court for such an order. There is a presumption of open justice in the law of England and Wales such that details of claims and judgments are made available to the public to ensure openness and transparency within the legal system. The value of this cannot be disputed, however, in the past, the publication of some settlements have led to claimants and their families being exposed to financial exploitation, crime and hostility from others.
The risks are greater where children, vulnerable adults and substantial sums of compensation are involved. As a result, when seeking Court approval of settlements on behalf of children and other protected parties, lawyers have been asking the Court to make an anonymity order preventing the publication of the claimant’s name and address to reduce the risk of exploitation after receiving their compensation.
“I am pleased the Court of Appeal has now formally recognised the desire to protect a claimant’s right to privacy, imposing an obligation upon Judges to order anonymity, unless there is good reason why the claimant’s identity should be revealed. I hope this will reassure claimants who have been anxious about adverse publicity and unwanted attention when their case has settled.”
If you or anyone you know have any questions about the right to anonymity, or indeed about a potential or ongoing personal injury or clinical negligence claim, please contact Lee Hart.