March 7, 2019
Court of Appeal win for hacking claimants
Mirror source protection appeal dismissed
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 litigation in the High Court in March 2018. The appeal was made in the Mirror News 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 originally applied to Mann J to amend the early disclosure regime, under which the publisher is required to provide claimants with call data between MGN telephones and mobile telephones belonging to the claimants and their friends, family and contacts (referred to in the litigation as “associates“), to require the claimants to obtain the consent of those associates before receiving the disclosure. Mann J rejected the proposed amendment, describing the proposed amended scheme as “unworkable” and 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 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.