Sheffield Crown Court rule on issue of succeeds in claim for public interest immunity in taxi licensing case
As recently reported on the local government lawyer website, the Recorder of Sheffield (sitting with two Justices of the Peace) has allowed Rotherham MBC to exercise public interest immunity in a taxi appeal.
Public interest immunity (PII) is a legal principle by which government or local government can request that sensitive documents are not used as evidence in litigation or a trial, on the grounds that to do so would be against the public or national interest.
The Barrister opposing Rotherham’s request to suppress submitted that the Court had no power to consider PII in this form of proceeding (an appeal by Rotherham against the decision of Sheffield Magistrates’ Court to overturn their Committee’s decision to revoke a taxi driver’s licence). She asserted that, absent a specific statutory regime there was no power to do so.
She also highlighted the concept of open justice and the rights of litigants under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
After hearing arguments from the Council’s Barristers, the Court concluded that there was no prohibition on the use of PII in this case.
The decision is not considered to be a binding authority and therefore cannot force lower Courts to follow the precedent, nevertheless it remains an interesting Judgement and may indicate a course of action other Council’s will now seek to follow.