Green Corns Ltd v Claverley Group Ltd
Reference:  EWHC 958 (QB);  EMLR 748
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Tugendhat J
Date of judgment: 18 May 2005
Summary: Privacy - Injunction - Article 8 - Freedom of expression - Article 10 - Public domain - Public interest - Addresses of children's care homes
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Andrew Caldecott KC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)
Aidan Eardley KC (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Halliwells for the Claimant; Foot Anstey for the Defendant
The Claimant operated homes for troubled children and bought homes for this purpose. The Wolverhampton Express and Star reported on plans for such homes and campaigns by neighbours, concerned about their families’ welfare and the character of their neighbourhood, to have plans for such homes abandoned. This led in a number of instances to criminal damage to property and street protests, and, the Claimant alleged, increased the risk that the children would be targeted by criminals and paedophiles. In consequence the Claimant had dropped its plans for several homes. It applied for an injunction to restrain the Defendant from publishing the addresses of further planned homes.
Whether an injunction should be granted to restrain the Defendant from publishing the addresses of the homes provided for troubled children.
Granting the injunction: The children and carers Art 8 rights outweighed the Defendants Art 10 rights. An individual’s home address is information the disclosure of which that individual has a right to control under Art 8. Combining this with information that a person is a child and has a history of mental illness, sexual abuse and/or crime is a highly sensitive combination to which a court is very likely to afford protection. The information as to the addresses was not in the public domain to the extent, or in the sense, that republication could have no significant effect, or that the information was not eligible for protection. Combined with information about the Claimants, this was new information that was only in the public domain in a limited sense. Publication risked causing serious harm. The subject of the Defendant’s speech was of high public interest, but the restraint sought would not prevent the Defendant from discussing the policy of how such children should be cared for.
An interesting example of the application of the balancing of Arts 8 and 10 under the Campbell and Re S framework. The Art 8 rights of the children were plainly engaged at the highest level, although Tugendhat J raised the interesting question of whether they were engaged at all as regards the homes not yet occupied. Although the Defendant’s Art 10 rights were equally of a high order (political speech), the interference was limited and proportionate to the need to respect the Art 8 rights of the children. The judgment is also noteworthy for its useful discussion of the issue of whether (and if so in what circumstances) private information can cease to be capable of protection because it has entered the public domain: the question cannot simply be solved by applying the old “once and for all” approach.