Restricted Access to Files in the Offices of the Superior Courts

Published: May 7, 2019

Restricted Access to Files at the Superior Courts April 2019

The files maintained in the offices of the Superior Courts shall not be made available to any person attending at any of those offices. This includes the parties to the proceedings and the solicitors on record. This practice direction came into operation on the 29th day of April 2019

This direction follows a judgement delivered in the high Court (Kelly P.) in the Butlers v’s Bosod case Dec 2018.

When Mr Justice Kelly had two different versions of an order placed before him and stated that “clearly there should only be one order in any case”. Following testimony in relation to this matter from the Principal Registrar of the High Court, Mr Justice Kelly concluded that it was likely that the file was interfered with and “the procedure by which High Court files may be inspected in an unsupervised fashion and where they are open to being interfered with is completely unsatisfactory”.

Mr Justice Kelly further commented that it is “essential that the integrity of High Court Central Office files be protected” and proposed to “discuss with the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal alterations in the system of inspection of High Court files so as to ensure that files are not interfered with and that they accurately record orders of the court”.

Read the Full Judgement Here

The courts posted the following statement on the 9th April 2019

HC86 – Access to Court Files in the Superior Courts
1. The purpose of this practice direction is to safeguard the integrity of court files maintained in the offices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal and the Central Office of the High Court. This practice direction arises in the context of the judgment delivered in the High Court (Kelly P.) in Michael and Thomas Butler Ltd & ors. -v- Bosod Ltd & ors. [2018] IEHC 702.
2. The files maintained in the aforementioned offices of the Superior Courts shall not be made available to any person attending at any of those offices. For the avoidance of doubt this includes the parties to the proceedings and the solicitors on record.
3. Nothing in paragraph 2. of this practice direction shall preclude the provision of a copy of a document on a file to a solicitor on record or a party to the proceedings where not legally represented upon payment of the relevant fee provided for in the Fees Order.
4. This practice direction is issued by each of the signatories hereunder in respect of the court of which he is President, and shall have application to files of proceedings before each such court accordingly.
5. This practice direction shall come into operation on the 29th day of April 2019.