New Practice for Family Division Injunctions

Practice Direction requires media to be notified via PA's CopyDirect service

The President of the Family Division has today issued new guidance to those seeking to obtain reporting restrictions orders against the media.

The apparent ease with which reporting restriction orders were made in the Family Division has been a source of concern to the media for many years. The orders, usually sought without notice to any media organisation, often imposed wide restraints on what the media could report, and in many instances went beyond that which was appropriate.

Designed with the requirements of s.12 Human Rights Act 1998 in mind, the new Practice Direction and Practice Note set out the required practice for Applicants seeking such injunctions against the media.

In particular:

  • Applications must be made in the High Court; actions in the County Court must be transferred to the High Court;
  • The Applicant should prepare (a) the Application/Claim Form; (b) a witness statement justifying the need for an order; (c) any legal submissions; (d) a draft order; and (e) an explanatory note;
  • If time does not permit the preparation of these documents, the Court is likely to require the applicant to file a statement at the earliest opportunity setting out the information placed orally before the court;
  • Notice of applications must be given to the media using the Press Association CopyDirect Service;
  • Unless there is a particular reason not to do so, copies of all documents relied upon by the Applicant must should be served with the Application Notice;
  • If there is a reason for not serving all the documents relied upon, the applicant must ensure that sufficient detail is given to enable the media to make an informed decision as to whether it wishes to attend or be legally represented;
  • Orders will not usually prohibit publication of material already in the public domain;
  • Orders must be served on the media in the usual way – the CopyDirect service should not be used for this purpose;
  • Explanatory notes should accompany any order to explain the nature of the case and (if applicable) why an application was made without notice;
  • The power to make without notice orders is preserved, but such cases will be exceptional.

An example of a draft Order and explanatory note are attached to the Practice Note.