New Judgment: Al Rawi & Ors v The Security Service & Ors  UKSC 35
13 Wednesday Jul 2011
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 482.
Considers whether the court has the power to order a “closed material procedure” for the whole or part of the trial of a civil claim for damages. The respondents claimed compensation for their alleged detention, rendition and mistreatment by foreign authorities in various locations, including Guantanamo Bay. They claimed that the appellants had been complicit in what had allegedly happened. The Supreme Court, by a majority, dismissed the appeal. The lead judgment was given by Lord Dyson, with whom Lords Hope, Brown and Kerr agreed. Lord Phillips would also dismiss the appeal but for different reasons. Lord Mance, with whom Lady Hale agreed, and Lord Clarke give dissenting judgments. The court unanimously decided that there was no power at common law to replace public interest immunity, whereby a judge decides whether in the public interest certain material should be excluded from a hearing, with a closed material procedure. The court has an inherent power to regulate its own procedure. In so doing it may introduce innovations in the interests of justice. However, the court cannot exercise its power to regulate its own procedures in such a way that will deny parties their common law right to a fair trial. Such a change could only be for Parliament to make.