Full case report

NPV v QEL & ZED

Reference [2018] EWHC 703 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division, Media and Communications List

Judge Nicklin J

Date of Judgment 28 Mar 2018


Summary

Interim Injunction – Misuse of Private Information – Harassment – Protection from Harassment Act 1997 – Blackmail – Derogations from Open Justice – Anonymity – Private Hearing – Without Notice to the Defendants


Facts

C, a successful businessman, had a short relationship D1. After it ended, D1 made demands for money which C gave in to in return for D1 signing a strict confidentiality agreement. Two months later, D2 approached C and demanded more money or, he said, he would reveal C’s relationship with D1 in the media. Evidence suggested D1 and D2 knew each other and D2 would only have obtained information about C’s relationship with D1 from D1. C arranged for representatives of his to meet D2. They did so and recorded the conversations. They agreed a price and arranged to meet D2 at a location where, instead of paying, they would serve him with an injunction.

C sought an injunction without notice to the Ds in misuse of private information and harassment. He also sought anonymity and a private hearing.


Issue

  1. Whether to hear the matter in private.
  2. Whether to anonymise C.
  3. Whether it was appropriate to proceed without notice to the Ds.
  4. Whether to grant an interim injunction and, if so, in what terms.

Held

Held, granting the injunction:

  1. It was strictly necessary to hear the matter in private. The evidence demonstrated a likely case of blackmail. If the court hearing was in public the information C is trying to protect would have been destroyed by the court’s own process: Khan (formerly JMO) v Khan (formerly KTA) [2018] EWHC 241 (QB), [81-[93] considered.
  2. It was strictly necessary to grant anonymity to C pursuant to CPR r39.2(4). C has demonstrated a likely case of blackmail and the court must adopt its procedures to ensure that it does not provide encouragement or assistance to blackmailers: ZAM v CFM & TFW [2013] EWHC 662 (QB), [39]-[41], [44] and LJY v Person(s) Unknown [2017] EWHC 3230 (QB), [2] followed.
  3. It was appropriate to have proceeded without notice given the strong prima facie case of blackmail.
  4. On the evidence before the court, C was likely to succeed at trial: s12(3), HRA applied. It was appropriate to grant a fairly onerous injunction until the return date because of the blackmail element. It was also appropriate to include an order requiring D2 to disclose his identity and address for service.

Comment

Of note here is the order the Judge made to require D2 to disclose his identity and address for service, which D2 did once he had been served with the Order. The case has concluded with the Ds giving undertakings to the Court.

The Judgment was handed down in public on the return date.


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Instructing Solicitors

Carter-Ruck for the Claimant; The Defendant did not attend and was not represented