David Burrows, Solicitor Advocate
Public interest immunity can make certain specific documents immune from production in evidence in a case, because the court directs that this is in the public interest. However the immunity must be justified by the applicant for it (almost invariably a public body). There is no longer - save in exceptional cases - any blanket immunity for a class of document. Immunity must be justified in respect of each document. In general there is a high measure of immunity for witnesses whose public-spiritedness leads them to come forward to report crime or other breaches of the law. Where the informant is one who reports on matters adverse to the welfare of a child their immunity from having to give evidence in any later trial cannot be guaranteed: House of Lords/Supreme Court decisions on the subject conflict.
The full version of this article appears in the February 2014 issue of Family Law.