Obtaining copy documents from the court file by a non party.
Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Anor  EWHC 397 (Ch
A non party to a case can obtain without the courts permission a copy of a statement of case or judgment or order made in public. The case was that of phone hacking victims. A non party applied for copies of certain documents ,an amended particulars of claim, a notice to admit and response to notice to admit which were provided with parts excluded which Mr Mulcaire objected to on the grounds that they could impede or prejudice criminal proceedings.
(1) The general rule is that a person who is not a party to proceedings may obtain from the court records a copy of –
(a) a statement of case, but not any documents filed with or attached to the statement of case, or intended by the party whose statement it is to be served with it;
(b) a judgment or order given or made in public (whether made at a hearing or without a hearing), subject to paragraph (1B).
Other documents can only be obtained with the courts permission
The court found that the amended particulars of claim were classed as statements of case under the above rule and as such should be available in a redacted form.
The court did have a discretion to redact under 5.4c (4)
(4) The court may, on the application of a party or of any person identified in a statement of case –
(a) order that a non-party may not obtain a copy of a statement of case under paragraph (1);
(b) restrict the persons or classes of persons who may obtain a copy of a statement of case;
(c) order that persons or classes of persons may only obtain a copy of a statement of case if it is edited in accordance with the directions of the court; or
(d) make such other order as it thinks fit.
(5) A person wishing to apply for an order under paragraph (4) must file an application notice in accordance with Part 23.
(6) Where the court makes an order under paragraph (4), a non-party who wishes to obtain a copy of the statement of case, or to obtain an unedited copy of the statement of case, may apply on notice to the party or person identified in the statement of case who requested the order, for permission.
The notice and response were not statements of case and therefore did not have to be provided. The motive of the party requesting was not relevant unless it was sought for an improper motive which was not the case.
The court did not think the documents would have any effect on any criminal proceedings.