Public Access to Trials and Hearings


Civil Law

In general, hearings take place in public. However, the court may order that a hearing (or part of it) may be held in private, including where the court considers it necessary in the interests of justice.


Criminal Law

In accordance with the open justice principle, the general rule is that all court proceedings must be held in open court, to which the public and the media have access. The Criminal Procedure Rules contain the applicable procedure governing when a court can order a trial in private.

A party who wants the court to hear a trial in private must apply by notice in writing not less than five business days before the start of the trial. The application must be displayed within the vicinity of the courtroom and give notice to reporters. The media should be given an opportunity to make representations in opposition to the application.

The public is generally barred from attending Youth Court proceedings, but specific exceptions apply for representatives of the media (section 47, Children and Young Persons Act 1933).

However, the court has the discretion to admit other members of the public and has been encouraged by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to do so.