Balancing privacy and open justice in health and care court cases involving children, young people and vulnerable adults is a complex issue. There are a number of competing rights and duties to weigh; each individual case has to be considered in the context of its specific facts and circumstances and the specific person at the heart of the proceedings. As individuals, we enjoy a right to confidentiality and privacy – especially when it concerns our very personal information about our health, welfare and care. At the same time, there is a significant public interest in transparency about the matters that are debated and the decisions that are taken in our courts for, and about, some of our society’s most vulnerable people.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the legal frameworks that determine how that balance should be struck, are multi-faceted and complex. In this table, Hannah Taylor and Alex Ruck Keene KC (Hons) explore the different types of health and care cases, what courts they are heard in, the relevant legal frameworks and procedural rules and the starting point for balancing privacy and transparency. We hope that it is a helpful tool for those navigating this tricky legal landscape and would welcome any feedback.

Alex kindly also explored the issues and themes in one of our Health & Care Regulatory Law team lunchtime education webinars earlier this year. In case you missed it, you can find a recording here: In discussion: the future of anonymity in health and social care cases | Bevan Brittan LLP. You can find our forthcoming education webinars and how to register for them here.

This complicated tension between the fundamental principles of confidentiality and open justice has recently been considered in the Court of Appeal in the conjoined cases of Abbasi and Haastrup [2023] EWCA Civ 331. We represented the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine as an intervener. You can find Alex’s analysis of the judgment here.

If you have any questions or queries about privacy and transparency in health and care matters, please get in touch with Hannah Taylor or Stuart Marchant.

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