(1) Pippa Middleton (2) James Matthews v Persons Unknown
Reference:  EWHC 2354 (QB)
Court: High Court, QBD
Judge: Whipple J
Date of judgment: 28 Sep 2016
Summary: Injunction - persons unknown - misuse of private information - data protection - breach of confidence - copyright
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Adam Wolanski KC (Claimant)
Instructing Solicitors: Farrer & Co for the Claimants
The First Claimant learned from a journalist from The Sun that an unidentified person had offered to sell the newspaper over 3000 photos obtained from her iCloud account. She subsequently discovered that the photos had also been offered to the Daily Mail. That same evening she obtained an out of hours injunction against persons unknown. The Claimants sought a continuation of the injunction upon the return date.
Should an interim injunction be granted against ‘persons unknown’
The injunction would be granted. The evidence demonstrated that it was likely the First Claimant’s iCloud account had been hacked into. Such an act would plainly be illegal and, at the very least, a misuse of private information. There was no public interest in the information, and it was not publicly available.
It was appropriate to make an order against persons unknown. The description of the Defendants in the order, namely as person(s) “who has or have appropriated, obtained and/or offered or intend to offer for sale and/or publication images contained on the First Claimant’s iCloud account” , was sufficiently certain to enable any person served to know that it applied to him or her.
The court would keep the action under review by ordering that the Claim Form be served within one month. If the Claimants had not been able to identify and serve the Defendant(s) by then, they would need to return to court to seek an extension of time.
The jurisdiction to grant injunction against ‘persons unknown’ is now well established. It is particularly useful in cases such as this where an injunction is needed so that third parties, who are considering publishing the illicitly obtained photos, can be bound under the Spycatcher principle.