Reserved judgments
Reserved judgments

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

  • Reserved judgments
  • What is a reserved judgment?
  • Confidentiality
  • Lifting the embargo on confidentiality
  • What is the purpose of a reserved judgment?
  • When handed a reserved judgment what should I do?
  • Can I stop a reserved judgment being handed down?

What is a reserved judgment?

A reserved judgment is a draft judgment that is circulated by the judge. At the end of the hearing the judge will usually state that judgment is being reserved. This is common practice in the High Court. The draft judgment will be provided to the parties’ legal representatives by 4 pm on the second working day before it is formally handed down, or otherwise as directed by the court (CPR PD 40E, para 2.3).


When a draft judgment is supplied to the parties it must be kept confidential until it is formally handed down and must not be disclosed to any other person or used in the public domain and no action (other than internally) can be taken in response to the draft judgment (CPR PD 40E, para 2.4). A breach of confidentiality can be contempt of court (CPR PD 40E, para 2.8).

Draft judgments are therefore embargoed and cannot be published to third parties before the judgment is handed down without the consent of the court (O'Connell v Rollings).

Where a party is a partnership, company, government department, local authority or other organisation of a similar nature, copies of the draft judgment may be distributed in confidence within the organisation, provided that reasonable steps are taken to preserve its confidential nature and the requirements of CPR PD 40E, para 2.4 are adhered

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