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Andrew Beck 2017 Catriona MacLennan
Andrew Beck
Catriona MacLennan

This book is only available in PDF format

Authors:  Andrew Beck, Catriona MacLennan
Published: 8 March 2018
Pages: 60


The main function of courts is to resolve disputes between people who are unable to do that for themselves. The courts are effectively the state mechanism for ensuring that disputes are resolved in an orderly way and in accordance with the law.

In an ideal world, people would be able to resolve disputes themselves without the need for outside intervention. There are many reasons why this is not always possible. The parties may have fundamentally different views of the facts, or may interpret the law differently. One or both of the parties may be unwilling to compromise regarding what is claimed.

In a few cases, there may be a public interest in having the matter determined by an authoritative body. For the most part, however, the end result of the court process is the resolution of a private dispute. The way in which the dispute is resolved may have precedential value for the determination of future disputes, but the specific outcome is relevant only to the litigating parties.

Although the dispute to be resolved is a private one, there has long been a concern that dispute resolution by the state should not be undertaken in secret. The process should be open to public scrutiny so as to ensure that justice is done to all alike, and that it is done in accordance with the law.

There is therefore a tension between competing interests. Most persons want their disputes resolved with the minimum of public exposure. The fair operation of the process necessitates that it be open to scrutiny. That tension comes into play with regard to the material put before the court to enable the dispute to be resolved. The fundamental question that has to be decided is the extent to which that material should be made public.

Content outline

  • Open Justice
  • History of the Provisions
  • Applications for Access
  • Determination of Applications
  • Protecting Confidentiality
  • Archived Records and the Passage of Time
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