AAA v Rakoff

Reference: [2019] EWHC 2525 (QB)

Court: High Court (Queen's Bench Division)

Judge: Nicklin J

Date of judgment: 30 Sep 2019

Summary: Injunction - Privacy – Anonymity - Expedition

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Appearances: Jane Phillips (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: DWF Law LLP (instructed for 3d and 4th defendants)


The first nine Claimants were all dancers at the Tenth and Eleventh Claimants’ lap dancing clubs in Sheffield and London (“Spearmint Rhino”).

As part of a covert investigation into possible breaches of licence conditions at the clubs, the First and Second Defendants (“Not Buying It”) instructed the Third and Fourth Defendants (the Private Investigators) to record video footage (“the Footage”).

The Cs commenced proceedings in relation to the Footage, seeking an interim injunction as to its use, anonymity of the first nine Cs and an expedited trial.

Following undertakings given by the First and Second Defendants in relation to the use they could make of the Footage, the only remaining live issues were whether the first nine Claimants should be granted anonymity and whether there should be an order for an expedited trial.


1.      Whether the first nine Claimants should be granted anonymity

2.      Whether an expedited trial should be ordered


Both applications were refused.

Anonymity: The Court found the Cs’ position on anonymity difficult to understand as they sought only an order (pursuant to Part 16) permitting them to issue the Claim Form anonymising their names (and thereafter for initials to be used in place of their names in the proceedings) but did not seek an order that would prohibit their real names being published or being identified as claimants in the proceedings. The Court held that it should not artificially place obstacles in the way of reporting of the case by adopting measures that simply make it more difficult for the media to report information upon which the Court has placed no restriction [41]. The Claimants’ concerns were premature: the Court could adopt appropriate measures to protect the Claimants’ privacy rights at trial and the prospect of potential future issues did not justify an anonymity order at this stage [42].

Expedited Trial: The Court refused the application for an expedited trial. There was no particular urgency that justified an order for expedition in this case: no sealed claim form had been served, and the undertakings agreed were a sufficient interim protection. Risks of delay identified by the Claimants were fanciful, and the effect on other court users would have been considerable [43].


The Judgment helpfully sets out the well-known open justice principles and how they intersect with CPR Part 16 applications to withhold the name of a Claimant from inclusion in the Claim Form.  It highlights how important it is, in any application for anonymity, to be clear (1) about the reasons for seeking such an order; and (2) identifying the precise scope of the order sought.