The Justice and Security Bill contains a series of proposals which JUSTICE is concerned could undermine public confidence in the administration of civil justice and damage the credibility of our judiciary.
This Bill would ensure closed material procedures (CMP) – where a party to proceedings and his lawyers (together with the public and the press) are excluded while his opposition speaks to the judge in private – become an ordinary part of the civil justice “toolkit” for our judges in cases involving “national security” (Clauses 6 – 10, Part 2). JUSTICE considers that that the operation of CMP is inherently unfair and that normalising the use of these controversial and previously exceptional hearings risks undermining the credibility of our judges and public confidence in the civil justice system. They are unfair, unnecessary and unjustified.
Clauses 13 and 14 of the Bill would oust the jurisdiction of our courts to consider ordering the disclosure of information in the public interest where an individual seeks redress in an arguable case which the UK is shown to be mixed up in wrongdoing, however innocently. This ouster would provide no exception for individuals seeking redress in cases involving evidence of UK complicity in torture or other serious human rights violations.
Part 1 of the Bill makes a number of changes to the system for oversight of the security services by Parliament. JUSTICE agrees that reform is sorely needed to increase the effectiveness and transparency of independent oversight mechanisms for the intelligence services. The increasing number of allegations of complicity in human rights violations illustrates the need for permanent and effective oversight in immediate and human terms. We regret that the proposals in the Bill will make little practical difference and appear to have been included as a poor trade-off for the limits on access to judicial oversight proposed by the rest of the Bill.
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Lords Consideration – March 2013
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Commons Report Stage – March 2013
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Commons Second Reading – December 2012
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Lords Report Stage – December 2012
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Lords Report Stage (Tabled Amendments) – November 2012
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Lords Committee Stage – July 2012
JUSTICE Briefing – House of Lords Second Reading – June 2012