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Barings Plc v Coopers and Lybrand, Court of Appeal, 20 July 2001

31 July 2001
The issues

Evidence – admissibility – whether Judge should read potentially inadmissible documents.

The facts

The claimants appealed from the decision of the High Court Judge who had decided that he was entitled to read as part of his pre-reading before trial that documents comprising two reports published following the enquiries into the collapse of Bearings Bank. The claimants contended that those documents contained material that was plainly or at least arguably inadmissible and which the Judge should not read.

The decision

There was no reason either in law or practice for preventing a Judge from reading or hearing material that was either potentially or actually inadmissible and this was especially so while the Judge was judge of both law and fact. Given that his intention was to read the documents solely to get into what was a long and complicated case there was no danger of his being influenced in by what he read.

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