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The Hidden Truth: Can You Keep Your Business Litigation Private?

by | Jun 26, 2024

Legal Q&A: Can You Keep Your Business Litigation Private?
Welcome to our new legal Q&A series, where we address the legal questions that matter most to you. Our goal is to provide clear, concise, and actionable advice to help you navigate complex legal situations.
Our latest video dives deep into this intriguing legal question: Can You Keep Your Business Litigation Private?
Our latest video, “The Hidden Truth: Can You Keep Your Business Litigation Private?” dives into the complexities of confidentiality in business litigation.
We explore the challenging reality of sealing documents in civil disputes and the rare circumstances where it might be possible. From understanding the commonality of redacted documents to the process of in-camera inspections by judges, this video provides a comprehensive overview of privacy in the litigation process.
Learn why sealed complaints are uncommon in civil cases and discover the types of sensitive information that might warrant such protection.


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Video Transcript:

“Can you ask the court to keep it private?”
Ultimately when you’re filing a business litigation claim it’s very hard to get a documents sealed. You’ll essentially see that in a criminal matter but often times in a civil dispute, unless there’s something that’s so severe and extreme and sensitive in nature where there might be significant physical harm or something to that level.
Generally, you’re not going to see a sealed complaint when it comes to civil litigation, now you might see redacted documents so for example, there might be private information that will come up with redactions when they’re filed or you might ask a judge to inspect in camera certain discovery or documentation, but ultimately sealed matters are very rare in civil cases.
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Can You Keep Your Business Litigation Private?

Business litigation is often an unwelcome necessity for companies, but it becomes even more complicated when sensitive information is at risk of becoming public. In the legal world, the notion of confidentiality during litigation is complex, especially in civil cases. Unlike criminal cases, where certain protections might be more readily granted, civil disputes typically unfold in the public domain. This blog post delves into the intricacies of keeping business litigation private, examining the challenges, legal mechanisms, and rare exceptions that might allow for such confidentiality.
The Public Nature of Civil Litigation:
When a company files a lawsuit, the proceedings generally enter the public record. This transparency is a cornerstone of the legal system, intended to ensure fairness and accountability. However, for businesses, this openness can pose significant risks, particularly when proprietary information, trade secrets, or sensitive data are involved.
In criminal cases, courts are sometimes more willing to seal documents to protect the interests of justice or the safety of individuals. However, civil litigation lacks this latitude. The threshold for sealing documents or keeping proceedings confidential in civil cases is considerably higher, requiring compelling justifications that align with specific legal standards.
Sealed Documents in Civil Cases: An Overview:
The notion of sealing documents in civil litigation is frequently misunderstood. Sealed documents are those that are not accessible to the public and are kept confidential by the court. While this practice is more common in criminal cases, it is rare in civil disputes unless the situation involves extremely sensitive information.
Sealing documents in civil cases typically requires demonstrating that the public disclosure of the information would cause significant harm or pose a substantial risk to the parties involved. Courts are generally reluctant to grant such requests because they conflict with the principle of transparency. This principle ensures that the judicial process remains open and subject to public scrutiny, which is vital for maintaining trust in the legal system.
Common Scenarios for Sealing Documents:
Although rare, there are specific scenarios where courts might consider sealing documents in civil cases. These scenarios usually involve information that, if disclosed, could lead to significant negative consequences.