Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council v BBC
Reference:  EWHC 53 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Mr Justice Tugendhat
Date of judgment: 22 Jan 2010
Summary: Injunctions - Private and confidential information - Threat to publish - CPR PD 25 - Human Rights Act 1998, s 12
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Desmond Browne QC CBE - Leading Counsel (Defendant)
Adam Wolanski QC (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Legal Services for the Applicant; BBC Legal Department for the Defendant
An order was made on 14 January, without notice, restraining the BBC from publishing any information contained in a Serious Case Review (SCR) concerning serious offences which had been committed by two eleven year old boys. At no time prior to the initial application had the Applicant communicated to the BBC any request that they refrain from publishing anything. There had been extensive reporting of the offences in public forums, subject to various restrictions on reporting made in the criminal proceedings. The Applicant applied to continue the order.
Whether it was appropriate for the order to continue
Refusing the application;
(1) Having reviewed a transcript of the proposed programme, there was no evidence that there was or had been a threat by the BBC to publish confidential or private information. Any application for an injunction must identify both the information said to be private or confidential, and the evidence of a threat to publish. For this reason the application to continue the order failed;
(2) There had been lamentable omissions by the Applicant to follow the procedure set out in the CPR governing the application for an interim injunctions: (i) no notice had been given to the BBC and no reason was advanced as to why notice had not been given; (ii) none of the requirements of CPR PD 25 had been followed.
(3) Furthermore, the Applicant omitted to (i) refer the Judge to s.12 of the HRA; and (ii) failed to supply the BBC, when requested to do so, a copy of the draft order submitted to the Judge.
This case is a strong reaffirmation of well established principles, in particular highlighting the importance of following the correct procedures upon seeking an interim injunction. As the Judge observed:
“The failure to follow the correct procedures means that substantial costs have been incurred which need not have been incurred … the rules are not just technicalities. They are essential measures for preventing unfairness and injustice to a defendant.”
It also reaffirms the fundamental principle that absent a threat to publish private or confidential information there is no basis for granting an injunction.