Tag Archives: super injunctions

BBC CoJo: When a super injunction is not a super injunction

Writing on the BBC College of Journalism blog, Judith Townend says sometimes journalists cry ‘super injunction’ when they mean privacy injunction.

A super injunction is one whose very existence cannot be reported – as in the cases involving Trafigura (2009) and Terry (2010).

As media lawyer Mark Thompson explained in a footnote on the Inforrm media law blog last year: “The ‘super injunction’ part of the order is the restraint on publication of the existence of the proceeding.”

Townend also explains the recent case of ZAM v CFW, despite media reports to the contrary, did not involve a super injunction.

Contrary to what you might expect, it appears that there are very few privacy injunctions against the media directly.

The public judgments suggest that the injunctions are often against blackmailers, and it is rarely contended that there is a public interest in the publication of the information.

Townend also has a compiled a list of the number of privacy injunctions here on the Inforrm’s Blog.

There appear to have been 11 privacy injunction hearings in the first three months of 2011, seven of which resulted in ‘public’ – although not always ‘published’ – judgments and two in which judgment is awaited.

She goes on to say there is a need for more information.

So where does all that leave us? While journalists should continue to raise questions about ‘super injunctions’ and the use of anonymous injunctions restricting the media’s ability to report court proceedings, there is a more pressing need for raw information direct from the courts.

The full BBC CoJo post is at this link.

Inforrm Blog: Superinjunction decision raises free speech conundrum

Last week Journalism.co.uk reported that a superinjunction preventing news organisations from naming Take That singer Howard Donald had been lifted by the court of appeal.

It means that the media can report the identity of the claimant, Donald, in the case, but an order banning former girlfriend Adakini Ntuli from selling her story remains.

Commenting on the decision in an opinion piece on the Inforrm blog (the International Forum for Responsible Media) Charlotte Harris, the head of media at JMW Solicitors LLP, who represented Ntuli in the case, discusses her view on the impact of the decision.

While it may appear at first a success for the free speech cause, she says, the decision presents a set of new difficulties for defendants and claimants in such cases.

In Ms N’tuli’s case, part of her story has been made public but she is prevented from addressing any criticism levelled at her, addressing any speculation or responding fully to press statements made that may be incorrect. Ironically her freedom of speech is more important now then it was back in March when the injunction was first served on her.

The assumptions made about her untold story are now assumptions made about her. Ms N’tuli cannot properly defend herself. She cannot say what she really intended to publish.

…So what of the future claimant? It is going to be harder to secure superinjunctions, anonymised injunctions or, it now seems, to keep an interim injunction in place unless the claimant’s case is proceeding at reasonable pace. The lifting of an injunction obtained, or the revelation of who the parties are can draw further attention to a story and pour fuel on a scandal. I would predict that until there is a clearer picture as to what on earth is going in the Queen’s Bench Division, it is not just defendants who are forced to be brave, but claimants too. If injunctions are to be de-anonymised then it is a lose/lose situation. It might be better to manage the client’s reputation and deal with a scandal through the libel courts.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger on Trafigura’s ‘own goal’

Following an extraordinary attempt by lawyers Carter-Ruck to stop the Guardian reporting a parliamentary question, due to an existing ‘super-injunction,’ this came from the Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger last night:

“Full circle… How the #Guardian is reporting #Trafigura own goal tonight http://tinyurl.com/yl4quac”

“That media organisations were unable to report a parliamentary question was due to a so-called ‘super-injunction’ obtained by the notorious law firm Carter-Ruck on behalf of Trafigura, a large London-based trading company. A ‘super-injunction’ is one which not only prevents any publication, but which is itself secret. Search in vain for the case in the court lists of the high court in London: it appears only as ‘RJW and SJW v The Guardian’. Under its terms, the Guardian was prevented from publishing a certain document: it was also banned from revealing that Trafigura had been to court to obtain an injunction. When we became aware that the existence of this order had been mentioned in a parliamentary question we sought to vary the terms of the injunction. We were advised by Carter-Ruck that publication would place us in contempt of court.”

What do you think about so-called ‘super-injunctions’? Let us know: via @journalismnews, in the comments, or via judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk.