Full case report

One Honest Man Inc v BBC

Reference [2003] EWHC 2808 (Ch)
Court Chancery Division

Judge N Strauss QC

Date of Judgment 7 Nov 2003


Summary

Broadcasting – Contract – Injunction – Human Rights – whether the claimant should be granted an injunction


Facts

The BBC proposed to broadcast a “Horizon” programme about a code said to reveal hidden messages in the Bible. The BBC entered into a contract with the claimant whereby it was to retain editorial control but the claimant would be able to correct factual errors and respond to criticism. The claimant sought a mandatory injunction allowing it to respond to certain criticisms or an injunction preventing the programme from being broadcast.


Issue

(1) Whether the injunction should be granted; (2) Whether the claimant had a seriously arguable case; (3)
Whether the matter sought to be included was within the contract between the parties.


Held

The claimant did not have a seriously arguable case and the injunctions sought would not be granted. It was within the BBC’s commercial obligations and discretion not to include the matters which the claimant wished to have included.


Comment

The existence of some sort of contract restricting a broadcaster’s/publisher’s right to publish can often form the basis of an application for an injunction – see also Fayed v BBC, LRT v Mayor of London. The latter case shows that even where a contractual claim is made, the Court should nevertheless go on to consider whether notwithstanding the alleged contract the information should be published. This is very much in accordance with the guidance given by the Court of Appeal in Cambridge Nutrition v BBC [1990] 3 AllER 523.


Instructing Solicitors

Rubenstein Phillips for the Claimant; BBC Litigation Dept for the Defendant