Victory in Supreme Court for Asbestos Victims Forum

In Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring [2019] UKSC 38, the Supreme Court confirmed that Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK was entitled to access certain documents from a trial to which it was not a party.   In so doing, the Supreme Court acknowledged that, applying the constitutional principle of open justice, the default position is that the public should be allowed access, not only to parties’ submissions and arguments, but also to the documents which have been placed before the court and referred to during the hearing.   Even if the judge has not been asked to read the document or where the judge says s/he has not read the document, provided the document has been referred to during the hearing, there is a prima facie right of access.   Anyone applying for such access has to explain why he seeks it and how granting access will advance the open justice principle.

Mr Dring, on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum UK, applied for trial documents shortly after litigation by insurers against Cape settled, following a 6 week trial and before judgment.  The Supreme Court has held they are entitled to all the witness and expert evidence and to apply to the trial judge for disclosure documents in line with the principles set out in the Supreme Court judgment.

Robert Weir QC leading Jonathan Butters and Harry Sheehan appeared for Mr Dring in the Supreme Court, instructed by Harminder Bains of Leigh Day.

This case has been covered in the national press, including The Times.

Back to News

Additional Information