Clarkson Plc v Person or Persons Unknown

Reference: ex tempore

Court: Queen's Bench Division, Media and Communications List

Judge: Warby J

Date of judgment: 14 Dec 2017

Summary: Injunction - Breach of Confidence - Return Date - Derogations from Open Justice

Appearances: Adam Speker KC (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Pinsent Masons for the Claimant


The Claimant, Clarkson Plc, is a substantial public company operating in the shipping business, with its headquarters in the City of London. 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 with derogations from open justice before Teare J on 27 November 2017 who granted the injunction. The hearing on return date was before Warby J on 14 December 2017.


  1. Whether to extend the interim injunction
  2. Whether to extend the derogations from open justice, in particular a non-standard derogation not to provide to the defendant certain information or documents put before the court unless and until he identified himself and provided an address for service.


  1. On the evidence before the court it was appropriate to continue the injunction. There was plainly a threat to act unlawfully for which there was no possible justification.
  2. The derogations from open justice were extended. It was appropriate on the facts of this case to allow the claimant to continue to depart from CPR Practice Direction 25(a), paragraph 5.12 and withhold from the defendant certain documents and information placed before the court at the first hearing before Teare J and on this hearing. This was because the claimant had stated that it was not seeking to put documents and information before the court that would never been seen by the defendant. It had stated that the defendant could have all such documents but unless and until he identified himself they should be withheld from him because there was a risk he would misuse them. The court considered that this was a highly material distinction: WEA Records v Visions Channel 4 :td [1983] 1 WLR 721 and Kelly v BBC [2001] Fam 59 considered.


There are 2 points of interest in this short ex tempore judgment.

The Judge noted that ‘claims arising from attempts to extort money from others by threats to publicise private or confidential information’ appear to be ‘increasingly common.’

He also continued the non-standard derogation from open justice explained above.