Parties in civil appeals could be required to bring two extra copies of key documents to the Court of Appeal to supply to members of the press under proposed new rules.
Lord Justice Richards last month proposed amending practice directions to require parties to supply copies of skeleton arguments and original judgments for use in the civil court.
Richards, leading a taskforce of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to look into the issue, said journalists can miss out on vital information as skeleton arguments are often taken as read in court.
He noted that the practice of law firm associates supplying information to trusted reporters had also disappeared.
Richards’ sub-committee heard representation from the editor of Strand News Service, after consultation with colleagues at the Press Association.
The group heard from the press that courts placed a ‘heavy reliance’ on documents and gave little in the way of an oral opening. Journalists complained it was ‘unsatisfactory’ for parties to control what information could be released.
Richards added: ‘Reporters are currently dependant in practice on the co-operation of the parties in order to obtain documents required for the purpose of understanding the proceedings.’
Minutes from the CPR meeting in April show that members generally agreed with Richards’ overall point but that it would place too high a burden on parties to seek out accredited journalists themselves. Instead, the committee suggested parties should bring two spare copies of skeleton arguments to court and leave them with the usher, who would manage their distribution.
Any proposal to require the provision of materials over and above skeleton arguments was rejected, while members also considered that litigants in person should be spared the burden of supplying extra copies of documents.
The committee agreed to a limited further consultation before making any change to existing practice directions.