Anonymity for the claimant now the norm in all approval cases

In JX MX v Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 96, the Court of Appeal reversed the general rule that the name of the claimant should be made public in approval hearings as in all other hearings. In doing so, it adopted the submissions made by Robert Weir QC and William Latimer-Sayer (of Cloisters chambers) on behalf of PIBA, the Personal Injury Bar Association.   

Rob Weir QC had submitted that the court’s function when approving settlements was essentially protective and fundamentally different from its normal function of resolving disputes. The publication of highly personal information involved a serious invasion of the claimant’s and his family’s right to privacy under article 8 of the ECHR. This put children and protected parties at a significant disadvantage compared to litigants of full capacity, who did not require approval hearings, contrary to article 14 of the ECHR. The proportionate way to resolve this problem was by making the default position one of anonymising the identity of the claimant. 

Following the guidance given by the Court of Appeal at [34], the position now for all approval hearings is that there is a presumption in favour of anonymity of the claimant. The judge should invite submissions from the parties and any members of the Press attending before making an anonymity order but should make such an order, unless satisfied that it is not necessary to do so.  

Robert Weir QC was instructed by Colemans-Ctts for PIBA.

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