Children and vulnerable claimants should no longer be publicly named in personal injury and clinical negligence cases, according to a recent Court of Appeal ruling.
Hailed as a “landmark” decision, the judgement removes a previous requirement for claimants seeking compensation for children and those with a mental health difficulty to formally apply for anonymity.
Up until the ruling on 17th February, cases would be typically held in ‘open’ court, which ran the risk of claimants being subject to possible later harassment. In addition, judges would require ‘good reasons’ as to why a claimant’s identity should not be revealed and whose name was to also be supplied to the Press Association news agency.
The Court of Appeal said that in seeking “open justice” there was “force in the argument that the court should be more willing to recognise a need to protect the interests of claimants who are children and protected parties, including their right and that of their families to respect for their privacy.” The judge went on to rule that the public interest “may usually be served without the need for disclosure of the claimant’s identity.”
According to legal representatives at the appeal, one effect of the judgement would be to give children and protected parties equal status with other claimants. This should now be routine practice unless the court was satisfied it would not be ‘necessary or inappropriate’ for names to be withheld.
It was also suggested that in future personal injury or clinical negligence cases, claimants would no longer be faced with fear or anxiety caused by their identities being revealed at the conclusion of a court hearing. Instead, the onus is now on the press to provide reasons why anonymity should not be granted.
As a result, the new ruling would see the ‘public interest’ focused upon knowing that a defendant was told by the courts to pay out substantial compensation to an injured claimant, rather than finding out the name of the claimant and where they live.