Full case report
JIH v News Group Newspapers (No 2)
Reference  EWHC 2979 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division
Judge Tugendhat J
Date of Judgment 18 Nov 2010
Injunction – Anonymity order – Privacy – Misuse of private information – Open justice – Articles 8, 10 ECHR
The applicant (JIH) applied for the variation of an order whereby the respondent (NGN) had been prohibited from publishing (i) any information concerning the subject matter of the proceedings save for that contained in a public judgment and (ii) any information set out in a confidential schedule to the order. The order also stated that JIH was not entitled to anonymity (although he would continue to be anonymised pending the renewal of his application to appeal). Two newspapers not covered by the order had subsequently published articles which JIH claimed had breached the order. The articles had been removed from the internet yet JIH argued that if and when the anonymity provision in the order expired, the publication of his identity would lead to the public knowing about the subject matter of the action thereby undermining the purpose of the order. He submitted that the only possible way to preserve the effect of the order was to impose a new anonymity order.
Whether the applicant should be granted a new anonymity order
Dismissing the application:
The judge concluded that readers of the two articles would, when they came to know JIH’s identity, know the subject matter of the action and that would constitute an interference with his private life. However, a threatened interference with Article 8 was not, by itself, sufficiently serious to necessitate the imposition of an injunction or anonymity order. The court had to consider what further order, if any, was necessary or proportionate to prevent the interference. In this case, the articles did not rank high on the scale of possible interference – they were pitched at a high level of generality lacking in detail. They did not include information in the confidential schedule. Also, the purpose of part (i) of the order had been to limit the risk of jigsaw identification of JIH. Accordingly, it was not necessary to vary the order in this case. The general principle of open justice provided sufficient general public interest in publishing a report of proceedings identifying JIH, to justify any resulting curtailment of his and his family’s Article 8 rights.
An example of the court’s approach to the granting of anonymity in privacy cases. The judge strongly warned editors and publishers to have regard to the “duties and responsibilities” referred to in Art 10(2). Such duties and responsibilities include a requirement to comply with orders of the court and they must take all necessary steps to ensure that journalists understand this necessity.
Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP for the Applicant; Farrer & Co for the Respondent
More from 5RB
5RB is the pre-eminent set in the area for handling defamation, privacy, contempt and data protection matters. Interviewees praise the set for having great depth and quality of counsel, and note that it boasts many of the top barristers in the field. Get the lowdown here.
New 3rd Edition of The Law of Privacy and the Media, published by OUP. Further details here.