Use of confidential information in civil proceedings
Use of confidential information in civil proceedings

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

  • Use of confidential information in civil proceedings
  • What is confidential information?
  • How can confidentiality be protected during litigation proceedings?
  • How may confidentiality be lost?
  • Must you disclose confidential documents?
  • Business and Property Courts—the disclosure pilot scheme
  • Can you prevent inspection of confidential documents?
  • Confidentiality rings
  • Confidential documents disclosed for a limited purpose
  • Relying on confidential and covertly obtained information
  • more

This Practice Note looks at the status and use of confidential information in civil proceedings including what confidential information is, how to protect confidential information and how confidentiality may be lost. It considers disclosure obligations in relation to confidential material, ways of protecting confidential material from disclosure, inspection and being referred to in open court, disclosure of confidential material for limited purposes, confidentiality rings, relying on confidential and covertly obtained information, receiving confidential material by mistake and the tension with other jurisdictions’ disclosure rules.

What is confidential information?

Information which is generally considered to be confidential includes:

  1. personal (or private) information

  2. trade secrets

  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. password-protected email accounts

  8. documents produced as part of the relationship between a solicitor and his client (Anderson). Note, however that, although all privileged material must be confidential, not all confidential information is privileged. For more information on legal professional privilege, see Practice Note: Legal professional privilege in civil proceedings

Confidentiality does not arise simply because it has been labelled as such: 'merely because the parties label matters as being confidential does not necessarily make it so. The principles of confidentiality are more restrictive than that' (Sports Direct at para [25], referring to CF Partners which summarises the principles of