LITIGANTS IN PERSON & FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: MINISTRY OF JUSTICE COULD BE ON THE NAUGHTY STEP

Just to keep people up to date with the recent posts about the Ministry of Justice and the disclosure of the research in relation to litigants in person. The MOJ has now been reported to the Information Commissioner.

A RECAP

Buzzfeed asked for disclosure of research the MOJ did into litigants in person.  The MOJ said no, the Information Commissioner said yes.  A six page “report” was then disclosed by the MOJ, accompanied by a strict email from their press office saying that they would “be very disappointed if you allude to us being in any way dishonest in your article”.

Of course the MOJ was not dishonest (they are the people in charge of the court system and the rule of law remember).  However it did transpire that there was a report that was somewhat longer than the six pages that was disclosed. Thirty pages longer in fact. This had a lot more detail, including direct quotes from judges, any many other matters that did not appear in the six page summary that was disclosed.

REPORTED TO THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

Buzzfeed today states that it has reported the matter to the Information Commissioner.  It was one of three parties who have reported the MOJ.  Intentionally concealing a report is a potential offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act.

It is tempting to ask whether the MOJ will require any individuals involved at the MOJ  to be unrepresented. It appears to set such faith in people appearing as litigants in person.  There again they may have research that shows different.

WATCH THIS SPACE

Buzzfeed (and others) seem unlikely to give up on this.   This is a good time to remind people of the other material they have covered in relation to access to justice.