Privacy injunction statistics published

One application for a privacy injunction recorded October - December 2014

The Ministry of Justice has released its quarterly civil justice statistics report, which amongst other matters records the number of privacy injunctions applied for, awarded or continued over the period. The bulletin records that one new privacy interim injunction was applied for.

The report defines a privacy injunction as “an injunction prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information”. More specifically, the report says:

the statistics relate to applications concerned with data protection and rights to respect for private and family life protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), whether the injunction is sought by an individual, a public authority, or a company. When an injunction is sought, section 12 of the Human Rights Act is engaged, meaning that the injunction might, if granted, affect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the ECHR.

The statistics relate only to cases heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They do not include any injunctions sought in proceedings dealing with family issues, immigration or asylum issues, those which raise issues of national security, or most proceedings dealing with intellectual property and employment issues.

The information collection scheme is governed by CPR PD40F, and is described as the “non-disclosure injunctions information collection scheme”. It is for the judge to decide whether proceedings which he or she is hearing fall within the scope of the scheme. The purpose of the scheme, which has been in operation since completion of the pilot scheme in 2012, is to allow the collation and publication of information about injunctions where section 12 of the Human Rights Act  1998 (HRA) is engaged. Section 12 applies where a court is considering granting relief which might affect the right to freedom of expression.

The scheme is aimed squarely at those injunctions relating to private or confidential information. However, not all applications for injunctions where section 12 HRA is engaged will take place in the context of actions for misuse of private information or breach of confidence. Injunctions to prevent publication or stop continuing publication of certain material may be sought under other torts, such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 or the principle in Wilkinson v Downton. Whilst the report does not name the one case which was included, it seems clear that there was more than one injunction which prevented publication or repeated publication of information during the period if injunctions sought in harassment and other causes of action beyond privacy were included. There have been 5RB case reports of harassment injunctions sought in cases including: Coulson v Wilby, QRS v Beach and Ampito v Pask. The case of OPO v MLA currently awaiting the judgment of the Supreme Court was an application for an injunction restraining publication of a book was granted under the principle in Wilkinson v Downton.

The report also seeks to consult on the publication frequency of the Privacy Injunctions chapter, in particular whether it would be acceptable to change this from being once every six months to annual. Comments on statistical frequency are invited via by 30th April 2015.