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"No change in fees policy" at Supreme Court

10 November 2009

Fees charged by the Supreme Court to members of the public who want access to court records are no different from those charged by other courts, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The Freedom of Information Campaign has described the UKSC’s £350 fee as “clearly excessive” and an “unjustified inhibition on freedom of expression”.

However, a spokeswoman for the MoJ said the documents involved were formal court records that contained sensitive personal and commercial information.

“The release of the court record is a formal procedural process, not a simple task of downloading or copying documents but requires an administrative assessment of all of the documentation comprising the record,” she said.

“The registrar has to decide in considering such an application whether there are issues of national security, commercially sensitive information, the protection of vulnerable parties such as children etc.

“The parties may object to the information being released and a process has to be undertaken to consider such objections.”

The spokeswoman said the Court of Appeal currently charged £200. She said both this and the fee charged by the appellate committee of the House of Lords before the Supreme Court opened were fixed in 2000 and had been updated to take into account inflation.

The spokeswoman added that over time the Supreme Court would increase the free information provided on its website in response to public demand.

“It will always respect confidentiality where that is required, but in many cases the information available will be sufficient to allow a good understanding of the arguments and the processes leading to the judgments handed down.”

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