Full case report

PML v Person(s) Unknown

Reference [2018] EWHC 838 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division, Media and Communications List

Judge Nicklin J

Date of Judgment 17 Apr 2018


Summary

Breach of Confidence – Blackmail – Injunction Against Person(s) Unknown – Application for continuation of interim injunction on return date – Derogations from Open Justice


Facts

The Claimant is a UK company. The Defendant(s) are one or more unknown individual(s) who gained unauthorised access to the Claimant’s IT systems and obtained a considerable quantity of information. The Defendant(s) then threatened to publicise the information unless a very substantial sum was paid.

The Claimant applied for an interim injunction without notice to the D and with derogations from open justice before Bryan J, as interim applications judge, on 21 March 2018. Bryan J granted the interim injunction and considered C, as an apparent victim of blackmail ought to be anonymised. The Judge allowed alternative service via the email account from which D had been corresponding with C.

The hearing on the return date came before Nicklin J.


Issue

1. Whether to extend the derogations from open justice.

2. Whether to extent the interim injunction.


Held

  1. It was appropriate to extend the derogations from open justice; to continue the anonymity provisions and to hear the matter in private: CPR r39.
  2. Little had changed since the injunction was granted by Bryan J. D had continued to threaten to publish the stolen data and had tried to do so. C was likely to succeed at trial and therefore the injunction should be continued: s12(3), HRA 1998. It was also appropriate to include a self-identification order requiring D to identify himself. Whilst a defendant might disobey such an order it could not be assumed that all defendants will choose defiance and one, in NPV v QEL, had complied. Permission would also be given to serve the Claim Form out of the jurisdiction is necessary to do so.

Comment

A similar case to Clarkson  v Person(s) Unknown.

Again of note, is the court’s willingness to grant a ‘self-identification order’ requiring an unknown defendant to identify himself and provide an address for service: see [19].


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Instructing Solicitors

Taylor Wessing for the Claimant; The Defendant did not appear and was not represented