Reference to closed material is inherent in FOIA litigation. Some element of closed procedure is usually also needed. But how are these closed aspects to be approached so as to accord with principles of justice, fairness and openness?
I blogged last year on the case of Browning v IC and DBIS  2 Info LR 1, in which the Upper Tribunal appeared to answer those questions. A curious feature of that judgment was that the Upper Tribunal said it was not giving guidance on closed material/procedures, whereas the substance of its judgment seemed to contain precisely that.
The coming months will bring greater clarity. The Court of Appeal has recently given permission to appeal in Browning.
Panopticon understands that the appeal is likely to be heard in the first half of 2014, that it will be heard by three Lord/Lady Justices of Appeal and that consideration is to be given to including among those three the Master of the Rolls or the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division). All of these factors seem to point towards the considerable importance which is – rightly – being attached to the issues concerning closed material and procedures in FOIA/EIR litigation.
Panopticon will report further – on an open basis – in due course.
Robin Hopkins @hopkinsrobin