Bermuda Press (Holdings) Case – An Update
About Jessica Kemmenoe
Jessica is an associate in the firm’s dispute resolution practice group. She practices in the area of civil and commercial litigation and advises on a wide range of matters including property disputes, estate matters, mortgage enforcement, employment matters, debt collection and immigration. Jessica started with MJM as a Pupil in July 2013 and is a local Bermudian.
Jessica Kemmenoe’s full profile on mjm.bm.
Following the July 2015 ruling in Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. v Registrar of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice subsequently issued a Practice Direction (No. 23 of 2015) regarding access to court records in civil cases. In the Bermuda Press case, discussed in this post, the Chief Justice had noted that access rights would still be subject to any valid objections from the parties in the case concerned. The Chief Justice had also specifically noted that the discretionary power will “rarely if ever” apply in ordinary civil or commercial cases where only private interests were in play.
However, following the Practice Direction, this gateway has been widened. With effect from 1 December 2015, members of the public are now entitled in civil cases to apply for copies of (1) the originating process and (2) judgments and orders in civil and commercial matters, save for the following categories of cases:
a) any case where by Order of the Court public access to such documents has been restricted;
b) divorce proceedings and any other proceedings related to children;
c) applications in relation to arbitration proceedings;
d) applications for directions in relation to trusts;
e) cases relating to the administration of the estates of deceased persons;
f) winding-up proceedings (to which the Companies (Winding Up) Rules 1982 apply);
g) any other category of case which may be identified from time to time by way of Circular by the Registrar.
It is also expected that the Court will issue more comprehensive Rules with respect to access to court records in the near future.