back to article Open justice FTW! El Reg fought the law – and El Reg won

The Register has won a legal battle against Midlands-based reseller Aria Technology that will help open up tribunals across England and Wales to greater public scrutiny. Following one Reg hack's boneheaded ignorance of the law determined struggle for justice, anyone who wants to see legal documents used in tribunal cases can …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Nicely Done Reg!

    Have one on the readers!

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Nicely Done Reg!

      As much as I don't really want to piss on the fireworks ...

      Aria Taheri, made a formal application to stop its clerks from revealing ATL's "grounds of appeal"

      That suggests to me that the document would have been handed over were it not for the application to prevent that being submitted.

      The ruling seems to me that there were no grounds to stop the document being revealed, that what should have happened will happen; an upholding of the law rather than a change of the law.

      I can accept I might be wrong but that's how it reads to me.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Nicely Done Reg!

        I mean well done is deserved.

        But I don't see why we have the term 'Open Justice'. Justice is justice, surely?

        If there is something nefarious going on behind closed doors, if something is just it still is just, if it is affected then it isn't justice.

        Actually that reads weird. You know what I trying to say? Meh.

        Too much GDPR documentation going on.

        1. aelfric

          Re: Nicely Done Reg!

          Justice has not only to be done, it has to be seen to be done. This is still a very important principle of our legal system and it bears stating explicitly to remind everyone that this is so. When things are being done without sufficient scrutiny there is always the possibility of nefarious acts and hence a lack of confidence in the outcome for any observers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nicely Done Reg!

            Not all things need to be public though. This can cause difficulties, when private things happen. But I am certain there are methods. Ways of protecting accused or accuser for example until a case is confirmed one way or the other to prevent tarnishing reputations.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nicely Done Reg!

              "Ways of protecting accused or accuser for example until a case is confirmed one way or the other to prevent tarnishing reputations."

              Or protecting other interested parties, eg. covert operations groups (eg the people in charge of Mark Kennedy/Stone's extrremely dubious covert survellaince of a lawful peaceful 'protest' group).

              And then there's the criminal (in more than one sense) trial of Erol Incedal, in which almost all the evidence was kept secret in unprecedented (and frankly unbelievable) ways. Something to do with a certain Tony Blair, perhaps, who knows:

              http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/repormedia-groups-lose-court-appeal-bid-lift-ban-reporting-details-tony-blair-plot-terror-trial/ (9 Feb 2016)

              Nicely done El Reg.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Nicely Done Reg!

          No, ask Richard M. Stallman.

          He'd tell you that the current judicial system is a closed-source, proprietary mess in which there is $$$ in some cases.

          The solution is open justice in which you can see all $$$ happening over, under, and to all sides of the table.

        3. Jason Hindle

          Re: “Too much GDPR documentation going on.”

          Welcome to the Reset.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: “Too much GDPR documentation going on.”

            when GDPR meets the public's right to know what's going on in the courtroom, who wins? This includes the public being able to see for themselves whether justice or INjustice was served.

            Oh, and "nice job" there El Reg

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Nicely Done Reg!

          " Justice is justice, surely?"

          Just about every one of my friends with lawyer training points out that the single most common mistake people make is believing that we (or any other country) has a justice system.

          You oiks entering university get told to lose that demented idea on pretty much Day One of their law degree courses.

          It's a LEGAL system. Justice has nothing to do with it and deeper pockets count for more than anything. If the law doesn't suit you, don't break it, buy a better one.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Nicely Done Reg!

            And besides, from what I've seen on the news recently most people demanding "justice" are actually actually asking for legalized retribution.

      2. Remy Redert

        Re: Nicely Done Reg!

        Your view is correct, however crucially, this has never been ruled on before. Now that it has, it's very likely that other Tribunal judges will release these documents without a hearing because a previous ruling has established that they should.

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Nicely Done Reg!

          crucially, this has never been ruled on before.

          Thanks. Think I've got it now - One can ask but they could shrug and play their equivalent of a 'go get a warrant' card. The judgement now provides for waving the ruling in their face and "don't need to; hand it over".

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      Clearly this will make setting up a carosel fraud harder.

      Wheather that is a good or bad thing will depend on wheather you're

      a) A UK taxpayer seeing one guy (allegedly) trouser £750k from HMRC

      b) A person actually planning a carousel fraud

    3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Nicely Done Reg!

      Excellent work. Barbara Streisand sends her regards.

  2. deive

    Thanks for making our country a slightly more open place. Truth is the only way to fight the corruption.

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Pint

    Wonderful

    Is El Reg one of the last bastions of Journalism fighting for Truth & Justice?

    There are a few others left.

    Some outlets/papers don't do ANY journalism now, simply quoting Wikipedia, PR, adverts and wire services.

    1. Gideon 1

      Re: Wonderful

      Some outlets/papers don't do ANY journalism now, simply quoting Wikipedia, PR, adverts and wire services The Register.

      TFIFY

      1. Paul Kunert

        Re: Wonderful

        Well said that man! If I had any blinkin Reg merchandise left I’d fling it your way! Paul K @ The Reg

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wonderful

      "Some outlets/papers don't do ANY journalism now, simply quoting Wikipedia, PR, adverts and wire services."

      But mostly Twitter.

    3. John H Woods Silver badge

      "There are a few others left"

      Can be a bit hit and miss, but Private Eye needs an honourable mention.

      El Reg - Well done, we're proud of you.

      1. mattje

        Re: "There are a few others left"

        I would also include the Beeb and The Guardian in the few.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "There are a few others left"

          The Beeb is excellent at broadcasting government press releases, ie making known what the powers that be want to be known.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "There are a few others left"

            "The Beeb is excellent at broadcasting government press releases"

            And it does so in a way which makes it clear that they're the product of string pulling vs actual journalism.

        2. An nonymous Cowerd

          Re: "There are a few others left"

          Beeb has recently been, completely, irrationally, over the top with Auntie Semitic propaganda mud, Grauniad has been reprinting articles verbatim from “Radio Free Europe” - they are both partly subverted. I think a lot of their staffing is primarily concerned with job retention than speaking peace unto nations’ or defending the working class around Manchester.

          BBC still have great music channels, nice antiques& gardening progs, the whole of BBC4 etc, and er . . there must be something positive to say about the Guardian since its brief foray into Snowden territory - yes, Steve Bell and Martin Rowson are amazing cartoonists, pity that Comment-is-Free does not apply to some of their more accurate reports that threaten the corporate-security-pigopoly.

          /rant. Just an opinion - keep your end up El’Reg!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "There are a few others left"

          Ten years or more ago I'd have agreed about the Guardian, and maybe even the BBC. But with very very rare exceptions, the Guardian has long since turned into a second rate hybrid of Hello, Buzzfeed, and Pseuds Corner. Sad.

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: "There are a few others left"

            Buzzfeed (occasionally) do some really top quality journalism (eg this piece on Lycamobile which got picked up by other outlets).

            Maybe the fact that they're better know for "which GoT character are you" type posts lulls people into a false sense of security, but they shouldn't be underestimated, there's some good journos there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "There are a few others left"

              "[Buzzfeed] shouldn't be underestimated, there's some good journos there."

              Were some good journos, maybe?

              "Heidi Blake is the UK investigations editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. "

              https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake looks like a decent track record.

              At one stage a few years back (e.g. 2015: Kathy Viner era, maybe) there was a bit of an exodus of journalists from The Guardian to relatively newly established Buzzfeed UK News see e.g.

              https://www.ft.com/content/b4aa4352-141f-11e5-9bc5-00144feabdc0

              (UK Press Gazette had some nice coverage too, which I can't find right now)

              Earlier in 2018, after another set of disappointing financials, Buzzfeed UK cut around a third of their journalist jobs:

              http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/buzzfeed-uk-sees-exodus-of-newsroom-talent-following-job-cuts/

              Not looking good for either outfit at the moment. Which doesn't bode well for the rest of us. There's not much we can learn from what used to be called listicles.

              So, again, thank you to the good people at El Reg.

        4. KeepCalm

          Re: "There are a few others left"

          "I would also include the Beeb and The Guardian in the few."

          lol. upvote for the sarcasm.

    4. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wonderful

      "Is El Reg one of the last bastions of Journalism fighting for Truth & Justice?"

      Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-Boiled Egg!

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      Pterry Icon, El Reg.....

      1. DJV Silver badge

        "Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-Boiled Egg!"

        And unlimited rice pudding!

        1. Tromos

          Re: "Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-Boiled Egg!"

          "...unlimited rice pudding!"

          But you may be subject to throttling if you have more than 10 spoonfuls.

      2. Tabor

        Re: Wonderful

        Truth, Justice, Freedom ? Considering the world we live in, I would happily settle for the hard-boiled egg. Though the reasonable-priced love sounds very appealing, I don’t want to get my hopes up. The missus has been considering some kind of veranda for a while now, which will make my love very expensive indeed.

  4. msknight Silver badge

    Congratulations El Reg....

    Fight the good fight. ... I mean the "good" fight... as in, the fight for good... not the other "good fight"... um... I'll shut up now.

  5. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Dancing rodents.

    There's hope for parts of the world's legal systems after all.

  6. Sam Therapy
    Pint

    Well done, that bloke

    Beer, of course.

  7. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Pint

    Excellent Work

    True Journalistic integrity from the Reg you guys are both credit to and an example of what the news industry should be!

  8. Giovani Tapini Silver badge
    Joke

    This explains why

    Judges can be referred to as "the beak", I never knew that meant a vulture though.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Well done reg but typical laywer...

    "In contrast, tax lawyer Catherine Robins of Pinsent Masons moaned: "It could be prejudicial to taxpayers if allegations of tax avoidance in HMRC's statement of case, which the tribunal may later decide are unfounded, are reported in the press before the case has been heard."

    You mean exactly how all other cases are heard? You know, person arrested, charged, put on remand or bailed. All before the case is heard?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done reg but typical laywer...

      I think the issue is when there is trial by media, which is all too common nowadays. When someone is acquitted, the media suddenly aren't interested and move on, having tarnished reputations. If the media outlet itself is found to have peddled lies on its front page, the correction is buried in a small column on page 14.

      Of course this doesn't mean it should be buried. It just means the should be some balance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well done reg but typical laywer...

        >If the media outlet itself is found to have peddled lies on its front page, the correction is buried in a small column on page 14.

        If I was in charge, the correction and apology would have to take the same font and position in the paper as the original articles. Splash something defamatory on Pages 1,2 and 3, and the apology should take Pages 1, 2 and 3. Doubt it'll ever happen though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well done reg but typical laywer...

          >Doubt it'll ever happen though.

          Of course not. It's all too convenient for the establishment, i.e. those who are shouting "We're not the establishment, with our offshore bank accounts. Those people are"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " [...] bringing the tribunals into line with the normal civil and criminal courts, [...]"

    Does that mean you can obtain court documentation of a perosn's criminal trial? Does that go as far as a full transcript of the proceedings?

    I once asked a Crown Court for details of a case but never received an answer - so I presumed it was considered not possible.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Does that mean you can obtain court documentation of a perosn's criminal trial? Does that go as far as a full transcript of the proceedings?

      Yes. Court documents are matters of public record. You can get pretty much anything from the court, and in fact you can sit in the court and watch a trial but you actually have to follow the procedure for obtaining transcripts etc.

      https://www.gov.uk/apply-transcript-court-tribunal-hearing

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Does that go as far as a full transcript of the proceedings?"

      You might have to pay for a full transcription to be made. The judge and barristers will make their own notes ?in longhand but if the official reporter is using shorthand it will all have to be typed out from that. The official reporter would use the shorthand if asked to read back a reply but from one story I heard there didn't even seem to be any systematic preservation of the shorthand notes after the case had finished.

      I'm not sure of the situation regarding audio recordings. They were being trialled back in one court in my day but it's a long time since then.

    3. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      With some time and determination on the phone you can certainly get Crown court judgments - they're all public documents. Full transcripts are a bit trickier if only because criminal cases tend to contain an awful lot of legal argument about inadmissible evidence that they don't want out in the public domain. They're also startlingly expensive.

      For the legally inclined, Criminal Procedure Rule 5.8 along with Criminal Practice Direction 5B tell you exactly what you can get and how to get hold of it.

    4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I tried getting details of a case about someone I knew. The court told me that as the case was over six months old, I'd need to apply to the judge to receive copies.

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Pint

    Won't 'sub-judice' apply here?

    In contrast, tax lawyer Catherine Robins of Pinsent Masons moaned: "It could be prejudicial to taxpayers if allegations of tax avoidance in HMRC's statement of case, which the tribunal may later decide are unfounded, are reported in the press before the case has been heard.

    In criminal cases, there is a limit as to how much detail can be published by the media/broadcast etc. IANAL but won't these restrictions still apply?

    The Media and others can see the documents but can't go around shouting about it until the case is decided?

    Again, IANAL but it would be nice to know.

    However, on the result of the case, BLOODY WELL DONE. Have a few (as it is Friday).

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Won't 'sub-judice' apply here?

      Ta - we've got the pub booked and the beer tankers on standby!

      To an extent yes. It all falls under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the law of defamation. We're bound not to publish anything that creates a "substantial risk of serious prejudice" to legal proceedings - in other words, airing stuff that isn't heard inside the courtroom by a jury or introduced by either side's lawyers. Judges are mostly immune to prejudicial material, jurors much less so. You can actually write quite a bit from the papers in an ongoing case - I did it extensively during the Google Right To Be Forgotten trial (e.g. this witness statement)

      Things like commentary on whether one side's guilty or not before the verdict are what generally gets people in trouble - some American columnist who thought he was being all cool and trendy about Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks during the phone-hacking trials got an entire issue of GQ magazine pulped a few years ago and the publisher was fined £10k. The commercial hit of losing an entire print run would have been far worse than the £10k fine.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Won't 'sub-judice' apply here?

        .....hacking trials got an entire issue of GQ magazine pulped a few years ago|

        That's nothing. I've been known to throw out 2 or 3 magazines at a time during tidy-ups.

      2. gregthecanuck
        Pint

        Re: Won't 'sub-judice' apply here?

        Congratulations!

        A bacon sarnie toast in your direction good sir!

  12. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

    I'd never heard of Aria (ATL) until now!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

      Not really the point, but I looked them up on Google and- assuming they're the same "Aria Technology" based in Manchester- it informs me that they're closed on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday... but apparently open on a Saturday from 9.30 to 10.00 AM.

      Huh?

      (The sign on their door indicates more normal hours).

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

        Yep, that's the guy: https://www.aria.co.uk/Support/Aria+Taheri

        I reckon someone filled in the opening hours for mon-fri, and then when selecting "add another day/range", overwrote the mon-fri entry!

        Incidentally:

        June 2011 - The Secret Millionaire

        Aria recently featured on the popular Channel 4 reality show The Secret Millionaire, during which he went undercover in Sparbrook in Birmingham, spent time volunteering with several charitable organisations, and eventually revealed his identity, surprising several of the charities concerned with donations.

        Shame on El Reg!

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

          Shame on El Reg! Huh? What for? Does one automatically become a saint, after having made millions and then shown up on a TV programme meant to show millionaires in a good light?

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

            It was obviously a joke, for fucks sake.

            1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

              duh

              1. Ian Emery Silver badge
                Mushroom

                Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

                Well Done guys; a few years back I had my own run in with Aria, what a bunch of shits they are.

                You couldnt put the boot into a nastier bunch of wankers.

                (Pardon my French)

      2. JakeMS

        Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

        Even the doors times are not exactly perfect. Open Saturday to PM, no time, just PM. Least that's how it looked on my phone. Maybe clearer on bigger monitor.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

          JakeMS, yeah, you're right. They are open 9.30am to "somtime in the afternoon/evening"!!

      3. Allan 1

        Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

        Their retail desk is closed except for saturdays, for essential renovations. Or was a week or two ago when I needed a new SDD. Their mail order business is open as normal.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

          Ahhhhhh, that makes sense then!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Streisand effect in 3..2...1...

      That's ok, IMO. How many of us heard of Cambridge Analytics before the press (El Reg and others) started covering and asking questions? It's the press just doing their job.

  13. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Winning a headline

    I hope El Reg don't regard it as headline news that they actually won a case.

    But congrats, anyway.

    1. PNGuinn
      Megaphone

      Re: Winning a headline

      IT WAS THE VULTURE WOT WON IT.

      c'MON, 'OW DID YOU miss that one THEN?

      >> add virtual beer icon.

  14. x 7

    "Midlands-based reseller Aria Technology "

    Really? They're based in Longsight, Manchester

    1. Craig 2
      Trollface

      "Midlands-based reseller Aria Technology "

      Really? They're based in Longsight, Manchester

      That IS the midlands.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Longsight is within the City of Manchester, which is within the Greater Manchester area, which is North of the Midlands, not in the Midlands itself.

        Historically it was within Lancashire, and I dare say most people living there will still say they are Lancastrians.

        The most North Western tip of the Midlands is Derbyshire, which shares its northern border with the southeastern edge of Greater Manchester. But that's where the Midlands end, at the border edge of Derbyshire.

  15. analyzer
    Pint

    Applause

    Congratulations and have one of these -->

    Having played with the 'Justice' system I know damn well that you earned it :-)

  16. Jeff 11

    ""It could be prejudicial to taxpayers if allegations of tax avoidance in HMRC's statement of case, which the tribunal may later decide are unfounded, are reported in the press before the case has been heard."

    AFAIK 99.9% of "taxpayers" wouldn't go to Upper Tribunal unless the sums involved were colossal and worth taking on. So doesn't this judgement simply remove the additional benefits afforded to the wealthy and/or large companies who can afford to appeal?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "AFAIK 99.9% of "taxpayers" wouldn't go to Upper Tribunal unless the sums involved were colossal and worth taking on. So doesn't this judgement simply remove the additional benefits afforded to the wealthy and/or large companies who can afford to appeal?"

      No, because like a High Court ruling, it applies the all the lower courts too.

  17. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Could Mr Corfield come to the Colonies here across the pond? There are far too many courts and governments who don't want the public to know what they're doing.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open justice?!?

    Isn't that counter to all the secret law Queen Teresa wants to establish?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open justice

    Is that different from secret justice?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Open justice

      Yes, I would hope so. Open justice happens in court room. Secret happens in a dark field or wooded area with someone "disappeared".

  20. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Corruption reigns in secret courts

    So we still need to sort out the Family Court system and certain Immigration and Terrorist related proceedings.

  21. matjaggard

    Click on Ads

    This is excellent. Unfortunately none of your adverts interest me in the slightest (no I do NOT keep passwords in a spreadsheet) but I'll click on a few anyway!

  22. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "ATL or any other person"

    Interesting wording. Is a corporation a "person" like in the US or has a precedent just been set? IANAL so would like to know.

  23. Voidstorm
    Thumb Up

    Basically: No, you don't get to do reams of naughty stuff and cover it up while each case against said naughty stuff drags on for years and you keep doing your underhanded shit all that time while getting off scot free.

    This ruling says "Nope, not letting you hide your overarching bentness on a case by case basis. Everybody can see all your shit now and make up their own minds".

  24. Wensleydale Cheese
    Happy

    "El Reg fought the law – and El Reg won"

    Nah. That song title will never hit the charts.

    P.S. Congrats El Reg. Keep up the good work. :-)

  25. PhillW

    Another one on the blacklist

    Ta Ta Aria, used to buy stuff from you............. now you are on the same list as Amazon,

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