Privacy Injunction. Spelman v Express Newspapers [2012]

Spelman v Express Newspapers [2012] EWHC 355 (QB). At a further hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat on the 16th February 2012 the injunction has now been lifted. We wrote last week as to the privacy injunction granted in this case on the 11th February, Spelman v Express Newspapers [2012] EWHC 239 (QB). The matter came back before the court. Further witness evidence was put before the court which may explain the complete about turn from that of Lindblom J.

On the expectation of privacy Tugendhat found that the likelihood of success lay somewhere between the two and that both sides had a real prospect of success.

He felt that the newspaper had a good prospect of establishing if it were to publish that it would be in the public interest but much will depend on the article itself.

“So on the issue of public interest, again I find that each side has a real prospect of success.”

He then went on to consider whether damages are an adequate remedy and couldn’t decide but warned that if they are to be an adequate remedy then the amounts must not be too low as have been in the past in cases such as Campbell. The awards in phone hacking cases have been much higher and these may be an indication of the damages to be awarded in the future.

He found that it was not necessary or proportionate to make an order restraining the defendant from disclosure of any information about the claimant as specified in the order of the 10th February.

He gave a warning however,

“This is not a licence to the defendant or anyone else to publish whatever they choose, or indeed anything at all. It is simply a decision not to grant an injunction. If the defendant or anyone else does disclose private information about the Claimant, then such disclosure may be the subject of a claim for damages, which may, in an appropriate case, include aggravated damages. The question whether or not what has been published is an interference with the Claimant’s right to privacy will then fall to be decided on the facts as they are then found to be. Any publisher who does choose to publish something about the Claimant will have in mind para 114 above.”

A victory for the press and an expensive loss for the Claimants who have spent £65,000 on legal costs. This may signify a move away from such privacy injunctions and instead compensation in damages.



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