REASONS FOR DECISION – OPEN JUSTICE – PRINCIPLES GOVERNING PRIVATE CHAMBER HEARINGS
The Supreme Court of Bermuda (Kawaley CJ) handed down Reasons for Decision to hold a private hearing in the matter of Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission -v- R Schuetz, which discusses the principles governing private Chambers hearings.
The Chief Justice had barred the media and the public from a hearing on the matter on 7 March, being the hearing of the application to have the substantive injunction application held in private, despite a request for the proceedings to be held openly. However, the Chief Justice found there was no reason why the title of the action should not appear in the Court List for 7 March.
The plaintiff, Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, applied by an ex parte summons for an interim injunction restraining Richard Schuetz, the Commission’s former executive director, from breaching covenants in his contract of employment obliging him to keep certain information confidential and not to disparage the plaintiff or public and private entities with which the Commission works.
The matter was listed for hearing and Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. sought permission to be present at the hearing on the grounds that it was a civil proceeding which concerned matters of public interest.
The Chief Justice decided to allow a private hearing of the preliminary issue of whether or not the substantive application should be heard in private. The plaintiff successfully argued that the efficacy of the injunctive relief it sought would be defeated if Mr Schuetz became aware of the application before the injunction was granted.
The substantive application was later heard in private and a temporary injunction was granted barring Mr. Schuetz from talking about his time at the Commission on the grounds that he breaches his contract by doing so.