Court of Appeal win for hacking claimants

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by MGN Limited (the publisher of the Mirror and People newspaper titles), seeking to reverse a decision by Mann J in the phone hacking claims brought against it.

The appeal was made in the ‘Mirror Newspapers Hacking Litigation’, managed litigation in which a large number of claimants bring claims in misuse of private information for mobile telephone voicemail interception and other illegal information gathering by the publisher’s titles.

MGN had applied to Mann J to amend the ‘early disclosure’ regime, by which the publisher is required to provide claimants with all call data between MGN telephones and mobile telephones said to belong to the claimants and their specified contacts (referred to in the litigation as “associates“), to require the claimants to obtain the consent of those associates before receiving the disclosure, as otherwise they would be required to disclose information relating to a confidential journalistic source, contrary to s.10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mann J rejected the proposed scheme, referring to “the impact on the many in order to protect the identity of one associate in one case.” MGN appealed against Mann J’s decision, and its appeal was heard in the Court of Appeal on 13 February 2019.

In their unanimous judgment, McCombe LJ, Sir Ernest Ryder and Floyd LJ rejected MGN’s argument that the early disclosure regime imposed in the litigation should be altered to protect the potential revelation of a confidential source, finding that Mann J had not erred in his approach to the balancing test required under Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

5RB‘s David Sherborne and Julian Santos appeared for the Claimants/Respondents, while Richard Munden (instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP) appeared for the Defendant/Appellant at first instance.