The highest court in the land could soon consider secret evidence for the first time after a judgment late last tonight.
In a ruling on the politically charged issue of closed material procedures, the Supreme Court said that it had decided it could examine secret government evidence but would do so only if it deemed it absolutely necessary to the case in hand. It added that it had yet to be convinced that would be the case.
The decision of the highest judges in the UK is highly significant at a time when the Government's plans for secret courts have caused outrage among human-rights groups and led to several high-profile Liberal Democrat resignations.
The court, whose president, Lord Neuberger, has repeatedly emphasised the need for open justice, heard arguments as to whether it should consider secret evidence in the case of an Iranian bank, banned from trading with British companies under the Counter-Terrorism Act.
The controversial nature of the case was emphasised with the rare attendance of a full panel of nine Supreme Court justices.
Bank Mellat is appealing sanctions imposed by the Treasury in 2009, claiming it was unfairly accused of alleged links with Iran's nuclear- and ballistic-missile programmes and that the order is "irrational and disproportionate".