Published this week was the “Report of an Inquiry requested by the Minister of Justice on the Publication of Names of Victims in Judicial Decisions on the Judicial Decisions Online Website of the Ministry of Justice“.
It basically finds that the Ministry of Justice staff need to fully read each and every judgement to check if aspects of it should have their names supressed, rather than just rely on the Judges ticking the right box to indicate name suppression applies, which will indicate so by way of a large banner at the top of the judgement.
In 11 cases (out of 1,500) Judges neglected to tick the right box, and hence judgements appeared without victims names supressed.
The main recommendation of John Marshall QC is that Ministry staff no longer rely on whether the banner appears or not, but read the judgements in full as they are legally obliged to make sure the law is complied with even if a Judge has not indicated it to them.
This is probably the right thing to do, but a bit of a pity as it means that the judgements will no longer be able to be processed by a “web monkey” (my term), but by fully qualified lawwyers, which is a bit of a waste of their talents. It would be nice to think one could just rely on Judges getting it right.
Of course one has human error, but I wonder if one could program the technology to alert a Judge if they have not ticked a name supression banner box, based on say a word search of various offences.
Anyway that is not the major foccus of this post. It was this comment by Mr Marshall:
Serious consideration should be given in discussions between the Ministry and the judiciary to changing the default setting on the Judges’ IT system to “N” = Not to publish
I think that would be a very bad steop to take. the default setting should be to publish.Tags: name suppression