CONFIDENTIALITY OF PROCEEDINGS – SECTION 6 OF BERMUDA CONSTITUTION – PRINCIPLE OF OPEN JUSTICE
The Plaintiff sought an order that previously issued summons, requesting permanent injunctions preventing the Defendant from bringing litigation which might breach a valid and binding Bermuda arbitration agreement between the parties, be conducted in camera and the court file sealed, and that any judgment or ruling be published in anonymised form. Hellman J found that the underlying issue in this case was therefore the balance of the privacy and confidentiality of arbitration proceedings with the need to uphold the constitutional principle of “Open Justice” in the instance of disputes arising from arbitration proceedings. While the proceedings were not themselves an arbitration, they involved reference to previous arbitration between the parties and to an ongoing dispute which the parties had agreed to arbitrate.
Hellman J found that the decision whether or not to hold a hearing in public was one for judicial determination on a case-by-case basis. He highlighted the principle enunciated by Lord Woolf MR in Hodgson -v- Imperial Tobacco Ltd  1 WLR 1056 EWCA of the need for justice to be publicly seen to be done, and affirmed that the importance of this principle is such that any departure from it must be to the extent and no more than the extent that the court reasonably believes necessary to serve the ends of justice. He also noted that access to information about what happens in Court was a more fundamental element of the principle of “Open Justice” than the ability to be present at the hearing itself.