JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd
Reference:  EWHC 2818 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Tugendhat J
Date of judgment: 5 Nov 2010
Injunction - Anonymity order - Privacy - Misuse of private information - Open justice - Article 8 ECHR - Article 10 ECHR – Consent orders
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The applicant (JIH) had been granted an interim order prohibiting the respondent (NGN) from publishing all or any part of the information described in a confidential schedule or anything which might identify JIH as the applicant. Anonymity had been granted on the basis that the proceedings were likely to attract publicity and that revealing his identity was likely to damage his interests or frustrate the administration of justice in the intended proceedings.
The parties delivered to the court a form of consent order, by which the interim order would be continued until final judgment or further order, and the court was asked to make an order in those terms.
The court examined the terms of the order sought, in particular the appropriateness of the application for anonymity in conjunction with the order withholding all information about the subject matter of the action.
The court declined to anonymise JIH’s identity in any order the court made, subject to any pending appeal.
The private life considerations of article 8 were engaged, both as to the subject matter of the action, and to JIH’s identification. The proceedings were likely to attract publicity and if the applicant was identified that would result in some interference with the private life of himself and his family.
It was not possible to make an order or give a judgment which disclosed any information about the subject matter of the action which did not make it likely that JIH would be identified.
The only real choice was to allow the public to know the applicant’s identity or to allow them to know nothing at all about the action.
JIH had not shown that it was strictly necessary to achieve justice in his case to make an order for anonymity.
Tugendhat J set out the following principles that are applicable when the issue of anonymity is being considered by the courts:
(i) As a general rule the names of the parties should be included in the orders and judgments, with no general exception in privacy cases;
(ii) an order for anonymity is a derogation from the principle of open justice and an interference with the rights of the public at large under Art 10 ECHR;
(iii) where a claimant asserts that anonymity is necessary under Art 8, the question for the court is whether there is sufficient general, public interest in publishing a report of the proceedings which identifies a party to justify any resulting curtailment of his right to respect for private and family life;
(iv) an order for anonymity should not be made simply because the parties consent: they cannot waive the rights of the public.