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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.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure