Trinity Mirror plc & Another v Punch Ltd

Reference: 19/07/2000

Court: Chancery Division

Judge: Jacob J

Date of judgment: 19 Jul 2000

Summary: Intellectual property - Copyright - Confidence - Injunction - Delivery up - Protection of Sources - s.10 Contempt of Court Act 1981

Appearances: Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Lovells for the Claimant

Facts

The Defendant had published a number of the Claimant’s internal e-mails, which contained confidential information. The Claimant wanted to establish the extent of the leak, what further documents the Defendant had and whether these had come from a particular breach of security. The Defendant’s case was that the information had been provided from one source (“A”), who had faxed it to a second source (“B”). The Claimant applied for delivery up of the documents without identifying marks as to their origin on the grounds that disclosure of the documents would allow it to narrow its search for the leak. The Defendant resisted the order on the grounds that it might lead to the identification of either A or B and relied on s.10 Contempt of Court Act 1981.

Issue

Whether an order for delivery up should be made.

Held

It was necessary to consider whether the disclosure sought by the Claimant would have produced a reasonable chance that the sources would have been revealed (Secretary of State for Defence v Guardian Newspapers Ltd [1984] 3 WLR 986 applied). The Claimant’s stated purpose for the application was to allow it to further its inquiry into the leak and the ultimate identification of the source. That was precisely what s.10 was designed to prevent. Application dismissed.

Comment

This gives a generous interpretation of the limits of s.10 Contempt of Court Act 1981. It appeared that the Court was prepared to conclude that the Claimant was seeking out the source, even though it had disavowed such an intention and was merely attempting to plug a security breach by identifying the general area within its organisation from where the leak had originated.