Judge sits in public to explain why case was private after journalist query

A High Court judge sat in public to explain why he was hearing a case listed as "ABC v DEF" in private.

The case was listed only by letters before Mr Justice Birss in the chancery division of the High Court in London – and "in private" signs were posted on court doors when the hearing started on 17 September.

But the judge agreed to start the hearing in open court after a journalist asked for an explanation – and then went into private session.

Mr Justice Birss said the case involved a housing association and he said he was dealing with an application for asset freezing orders.

The judge said there was good reason for hearing the application at a private hearing and a good reason for the parties involved being anonymised.

But he added that it was "right and proper" for the press to ask why cases were listed in such a fashion and heard in private.

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