Clarkson Plc v Person or Persons Unknown

Reference: [2018] EWHC 417 (QB)

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

Judge: Warby J

Date of judgment: 6 Mar 2018

Summary: Breach of Confidence - Injunction Against Person(s) Unknown - Application for Default Judgment and permanent injunction on paper - CPR 23.8 - Derogations from Open Justice 

Download: Download this judgment

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. That interim injunction was extended by Warby J on 14 December 2017 who gave directions requiring the Claimant to take such steps as it was advised by 22 February 2018 to conclude the action.

The Claimant applied for default judgment and a permanent injunction and to keep the derogations from open justice in place. It sought for the application to be determined on paper without a hearing to save costs.


  1. Whether the application for default judgment and a permanent injunction should be determined on paper.
  2. Whether the application should be granted.
  3. Whether the derogations from open justice should be continued.


  1. It was an appropriate application to determine on paper under CPR 23.8(c) because, where, as here, the Defendant(s) had not engaged with the claim, a hearing would add to the expense of the claim without serving any useful purpose: PJS v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2016] EWHC 2770 (QB) considered. The open justice principle was properly respected by handing down judgment publicising the fact that the order had been made and the basis for making it. Moreover, there had already been two public hearings in the matter where judgments had been given.
  2. It was an appropriate case for default judgment and the grant of a permanent injunction. The Defendant(s) had not served a Defence. The Claimant’s Particulars of Claim showed a clear need to restrain the Defendant(s) from carrying out the threatened disclosures.
  3. A good case had been made that the information in the confidential schedules and exhibits to documents put before the court was confidential and should not be publicly available as of right.


This short judgment contains useful guidance on when a court might decide to determine an application on paper.

5RB’s Adam Speker acted for the Claimants appearing at the hearings before Teare and Warby JJ. Justin Rushbrooke QC advised at an earlier stage.