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In Camera

Under Article 34 (1) of the Constitution of Ireland, it is provided:

Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.

Hearings not so held are “privateâ€? and are said to be held “in cameraâ€?. (“Camera is the Latin for “roomâ€?).
The most common proceeding heard in camera is the hearing of a family law matter. That aside, it is denied to almost every other litigant that the proceedings be heard in private.

It is a shock therefore to review a hearing that was not only heard in private, but one of the parties was excluded from part of the proceedings.

This happened in Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform v Information Commissioner and Notice Party [2003] IEHC

The Information Commissioner made a ruling against the Minister that he disclose certain documents to the Notice Party. The Minister appealed pursuant to Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 1997

On a Motion for Directions the High Court ordered the hearing to be held in camera in order to ensure there would be no disclosure of material to the Notice Party or the public. The court also ordered that the identity of the Notice Party not be disclosed, that the material or records not be disclosed to the Notice Party and that the Notice Party, to that end, not get copies of the affidavits and exhibits exchanged between the Minister and the Commissioner.

The Minister and the Commissioner exchanged full submissions; the Notice Party did not get these.

Essentially, the court judgement consisted of a bare finding in favour of the Minister, on grounds contained in the secret submissions of the Minister.

One Comment

  1. I would love to see the end of in camera family courts.

    From my experience it was a kangaroo court and nothing more.

    The law was not adhered to and the judge – because of his unresolved women issues, thus leading him to tell me to go home and obey or walk the streets.

    If justice is to be done- then it must be seen to be done.

    So, for this to happen, cases where one party is left homeless, etc and no one allowed to know this truth- says a lot of the injustice taking place in secret courts.

    Also- if these courts were carrying out justice then the judge would not call the applicant in and warn them that she will be locked up if she goes to Strasbourg.

    Gagging people from telling the truth belongs in the past.