On 5 November 2014, the UK’s High Court gave judgment in a preliminary hearing relating to the challenge by Bank Mellat, a private Iranian bank, against a prohibition on all persons in the UK’s financial sector from entering into or participating in any transaction or business relationship with the bank. This prohibition was imposed pursuant to UK sanctions in respect of Iran’s nuclear programme.
The hearing was as to the level of disclosure required to be made to the Claimant to enable it to instruct special advocates for in camera hearings it would not be permitted to attend. In the UK, special advocates are lawyers who are authorised to appear in closed proceedings which a defendant is not permitted to attend. In this case, Bank Mellat would not be allowed to attend for national security reasons. In the closed proceedings, the special advocates are entitled to greater disclosure of the evidence against their client. However, they are unable to disclose or discuss such evidence with their client.
Justice Collins ruled that Bank Mellat is entitled to disclosure of “sufficient information about the allegations against it to enable it to give effective instructions to the special advocates” challenging the sanctions imposed against it. Bank Mellat therefore now has the right to some disclosure.