High Court rules lawyers representing phone hacking victims have had 'too much of a good thing' with NI disclosures
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Friday 05 October 2012
The High Court ruled today that lawyers representing phone hacking victims have had “too much of a good thing” in terms of general disclosures from News International.
Mr Justice Vos, the judge hearing civil actions by more than 170 individuals, said that further access to hundreds of emails and other potential evidence on the News of the World's illegal activities will now take place only on a cases-by-case basis.
The judge said his decision did "not come easily" and mentioned NI's previous failure to disclose material and the admission it had also destroyed emails.
However he said the value of further "generic" disclosures were unlikely to be justified, nor cost effective, in relation to the civil actions.
Claimants had been seeking access to 433 emails contained in a computer file that was located in the room of a senior NI executive.
During a four day hearing last week, Mr Justice Vos hinted at the possibility of the civil actions having to wait till the current criminal trial process had been concluded.
However today he said he believed the civil trails could go ahead without "trespassing on allegations made in the criminal proceedings."
Claimants' lawyers last week also abandoned claims for exemplary damages.
A News International spokeswoman welcomed the court ruling last night saying that Mr Justice Vos had "in short" agreed with NGN that "enough is enough".
She added: "We have always been committed to bringing these proceedings to a fair, appropriate and expeditious conclusion."
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