Secret courts 'could damage UK reputation'
The Government's plan to allow secret court hearings in civil cases could damage the UK's international reputation for justice, the Law Society has warned.
The House of Lords is set to debate the Justice and Security Bill this afternoon, with reports suggesting the Government faces defeat over a number of amendments.
Former justice secretary Ken Clarke, who has retained responsibility for the plans, this morning urged peers to reject the "legalistic amendments", claiming the bill in its current form was vital to the UK's security.
But speaking to Central Lobby
this afternoon, Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said the plans for so called 'closed-material procedures' depart from the "essential principle" of justice and could damage the UK's reputation abroad.
"Whilst the government rightly takes a strong stance in respect of the importance of the rule of law globally, we fear that if passed, this Bill will adversely affect the UK’s international reputation for fair justice," she said.
“It is our belief that Closed Material Procedures (CMP) depart from an essential principle of natural justice which is that all parties are entitled to see and challenge all of the evidence relied upon before the court, and to combat that evidence by calling evidence of their own.
“In addition, CMPs also undermine the principle that public justice should be dispensed in public and will weaken fair trial guarantees and the principle of equality of arms. These are both essential concepts of the rule of law.”