Disclosure—confidential information
Disclosure—confidential information

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Disclosure—confidential information
  • What is confidential information?
  • How can confidentiality be protected during litigation proceedings?
  • How may confidentiality be lost?
  • Must you disclose confidential documents?
  • Can you prevent inspection of confidential documents?
  • Confidentiality rings
  • Anonymisation—protecting the identity of a party or a witness—Rule 39.2(4)
  • Confidential documents disclosed for a limited purpose
  • Receiving confidential information in error
  • Tension with other jurisdictions' rules
  • Other issues to consider

This Practice Note looks at what confidential information is, who it belongs to and how to protect it. It considers disclosure obligations in relation to confidential material and ways of protecting it from disclosure, inspection and being referred to in open court and the position on confidential documents disclosed for a limited purpose eg taxation. It looks at anonymisation to protect the identity of a party or witness (Rule 39.2), confidentiality rings, privacy injunctions, exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, General Data Protection Regulation, Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) and international aspects, as well as the tension between this and other jurisdictions’ disclosure rules, as well as obligations including barristers’ obligations on accidentally receiving confidential material belonging to the other side in error.

Note: you should also consider if the proceedings are subject to the disclosure pilot in the Business and Property Courts. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Business and Property Courts—the disclosure pilot scheme.

What is confidential information?

Information which is generally considered to be confidential includes:

  1. trade secrets

  2. personal (or private) information

  3. journalistic, artistic or literary confidences

  4. government secrets

  5. court-ordered settlement agreements requiring non-disclosure

  6. information specifically identified by contract as restricted

  7. documents produced as part of the relationship between a solicitor and his client (Anderson). For more information on legal professional privilege, see Practice Note: Legal professional