The Supreme Court has ruled that public access to documents filed at court should be "the default position".
The court made clear that while there is no automatic right for non-parties seeking access to court documents, the "default position should be to grant access to documents placed before a judge and referred to by a party at trial unless there was a good reason not to do so".
Non-parties are entitled to request access to documents filed at court under CPR 5.4C.
CPR 5.4C (2) states "A non-party may, if the court gives permission, obtain from the records of the court a copy of any other document filed by a party, or communication between the court and a party or another person" https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part05
The Supreme Court judgment summary makes clear: " A non-party seeking access must explain why he seeks it and how granting access will advance the open justice principle. The court will carry out a fact-specific balancing exercise to take account of...the need to protect national security, privacy interests or commercial confidentiality. The practicalities and proportionality of granting the request will also be relevant, especially when proceedings are over."
The Supreme Court's judgment is likely to make it easier for non-parties, such as the media, to obtain documents filed at court.
In Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) five justices ruled that the court should be free to grant public access based on the constitutional principle of open justice