Most North Carolina businesses have confidential information that they hold private that sets their company apart in their business products, skills or practices. Even if they are embroiled in business litigation, they will not want that information released to the public. This is also true for individuals who are in the middle of a lawsuit relative to their personal lives. However, in both business and individual matters, the information might be relevant to the court matter they face.
Courts have determined that a protective order can stop the release of private information that comes to light during discovery. While the court has the information, the public will not have access to it. In order to prevent open disclosure, the party must prove that such disclosure will cause them unnecessary expense or personal or business difficulties. The expenses and difficulties must be clearly spelled out and cannot involve a general concern.
The opposing party will most likely contend that the case should include full disclosure. The judge will listen to the arguments and render a decision that it feels is in the best interests of justice. Once the case is resolved, no matter the outcome, the party might still argue for the record to remain permanently sealed, but they must prove why said sealing is necessary. The public might question why all the material was not disclosed, but a judge will have the final say.
A company will usually want its confidential business information to remain private even in the face of litigation. A business litigation attorney might be able to help clients protect confidential information if they are party to a lawsuit where there is the threat of such information becoming public.
Source: USA Today, “Protective orders aid both parties: Opposing view“, Mike Weston, March 10, 2014