This report, which is the first of its kind globally, combines quantitative polling with a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,164 adults and public deliberation to explore public attitudes to the publication and use of data held in court records, including judgments. It explores themes including: sensitivity of court judgment data; how court judgments may be used and by whom; what participants feel is an acceptable use of court judgment data; and how access and governance can create a system that commands public trust.
The key findings of the research are:
- 80% of people said there should be limits and controls on who can use information from court records and how they can use it.
- 50% of polling respondents expressed discomfort about use of court data by tech companies credit rating agencies (42%), insurance companies (42%).
- 59% said they were comfortable with the information from court records being used to improve judges’ decision-making or reduce costs in the justice system but only 26% were comfortable with commercial companies having access to develop products and services (26%).
- 70% of participants said that they knew nothing or not very much about the information contained in court records, and 74% about who has access to court records.
- 64% felt that the government keeps the public “fairly poorly” or “very poorly” informed about how information from court records is used.
- Participants felt that access arrangements should prioritise applicants and applications that deliver proven public benefit, and that products built using court record data should be evaluated by an independent regulator
To secure public consent for future data-sharing arrangements, TLEF is recommending policymakers:
Justice Data Matters: Building a public mandate for court data use
- Understand and accommodate the public’s interest in the use of justice data.
- Prioritise transparency and good communication.
- Formalise existing governance and ensure limits, controls and regulation that are in line with the public’s expectations.
- Undertake further research to understand what ‘public interest’ looks like, and build public engagement into data governance.