Reference:  EWHC 3133 (QB)
Court: High Court (Queen's Bench Division)
Judge: Tugendhat J
Date of judgment: 30 Nov 2011
Summary: Misuse of private information - interim injunction - anonymity - open justice
Godwin Busuttil (Claimant)
Instructing Solicitors: Payne Hicks Beach for C, Wilford Smith for Ds
C and both the Ds were individuals. C applied on notice to the Ds, but without issuing proceedings, for an interim injunction to restrain Ds from revealing certain private and confidential information, listed in confidential schedules.
C also sought an anonymity order for all parties and other derogations from open justice including that the hearing be in in private and that the hearing papers be protected. C also applied for certain ancillary orders to prevent further dissemination of the information and to allow C to give notice to any person the Ds might identify as someone to whom they had already disclosed the information.
– Should the injunction be granted?
– Should the derogations from open justice and ancillary orders be granted?
Order granted, largely by consent.
The judge was satisfied that it was necessary in the interests of justice for the hearing to be in private, for the parties to be anonymised and for the other derogations from open justice to be granted. Without such derogations the purpose of the order would be likely to be defeated. As there had been some reporting in the past, without anonymity there may well be disclosure of private and confidential information.
There was no return date in the order. The reason for this was that C had given notice of her intention to apply for the order, and the Ds were represented and were able to deal with the application as if proceedings had been issued and an application notice issued on 3 days notice, as prescribed by CPR 23.7. The only reason why the claim form had not been issued was that a court order was required for the issue of it in anonymised form, and in the particular circumstances of this case the most convenient way of dealing with the matter was to ask for the anonymisation order at the same hearing as the other relief and orders.
The August 2011 Practice Guidance on Interim Non-Disclosure Orders suggests that, except in cases of urgency, proceedings ought to be issued in the ordinary way and application notices issued and served on interim injunction respondents in accordance with CPR 23. The Practice Guidance, however, is unclear as to what an applicant should do in a non-urgent case where an order for anonymity might be required. A claimant cannot just issue proceedings in anonymised form. He or she needs a court order, and in the light of cases such as JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd, it seemed possible that non-parties (i.e. the media where not a defendant but affected by the anonymisation) might have a right to argue that proceedings should not be issued in that form. An authoritative answer to this particular conundrum has now been provided: see CVB v MGN Ltd  EWHC 1148 (QB).