A guest post by anonymous blogger “Juvenal”
Finding court judgments should be easy. And finding a judgment of the Supreme Court should be easier still. Could it be possible that a landmark judgment has suddenly “disappeared”. Even that it might never have been reported in the first place??
That is the shocking conclusion I have come to after reading the excellent analysis by blogger @loveandgarbage of the landmark case of Smith v DPP and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police  UKSC 666. He points out that the judgment should be at http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/uksc-2011-0666-judgment.pdf but that goes, suspiciously, to a blank page. Every effort is being made to find out what is going on.
Making an FOI request seemed to me to be the best way forward. Under FOI, unless an exemption applies, a public authority must disclose information to a requester. So, even though the Supreme Court holds an absolute exemption under section 32, I thought it was worth a try. I was shocked to be told that the information was “not held” and that I was being classed as vexatious for asking for a judgment that never even existed. Can you imagine anything more suspicious?
5 responses to “Initial thoughts on a suspiciously missing judgment”
Oh for heck’s sake – not all judgements are online all the time.
Judge;s associated can be slow completing the catchwords, or their busy little fingers can slip up when inputting, so it fails to register or appears other than where it should because of eg., a transposed digit. Uploading a judgement – with or without catchwords – is not as straight forward as you might imagine. When I did it , it involved over 20 steps. One step out of sequence and it’s gone.
May I make a recommendation? When I cannot locate a judgement I need, I call or email the Deputy Registrar at the relevant Court or Tribunal, tell them what I am after and why I can’t locate it, apologising in advance in case it’s me stuffing it up – and at least in Australia, they have all been terrific. I always got a copy of the judgement the same or the next working day. One court in rural Victoria only had hard copies of an old judgement so they photocopied it and mailed it to me.
Some tribunals do not routinely put up all decisions because they had a policy of only putting up the legally important, so when I sent a quick email to the Tribunal’s main email address got flicked the the Associate, who sent me the decision.
There are multiple non-paranoid reasons for judgements not being where you expect them to be. Ask nicely first. Only lodge a FoI if all else fails. You many be delighted to discover you do not need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Thanks for the comment. Have you actually read Juvenal’s post closely – and the loveandgarbage post which prompted it?
The post you link to was clearly satire. The first major clue is that it is tagged as “satire”, and the second is the citation “ UKSC 666” which is not only arguably the number of the beast but also comes far after the last case of the year ( UKSC 60). Still, an honest request for a non-existent case should not be treated as vexatious.
I feel betrayed.
Have you checked my tags by the way?
I think Juvenal knew what he was doing. He is famous for it in fact.