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Applications for privacy injunctions – when notice need not be given

10 January 2011. Published by Keith Mathieson, Partner

In DFT v TFD [2010] EWHC 2335 (QB) Sharp J made an order to restrain publication of allegedly private and confidential information without notice having been given to either the respondent or the media.

The case concerned an alleged blackmail attempt by the respondent.  It was said by the claimant that the respondent was threatening to publish information about a sexual relationship between them unless she was paid very substantial sums of money.

In circumstances involving alleged blackmail, Sharp J considered it appropriate to make an order without notice to the respondent or any other party.  In so ruling, she cited the Court of Appeal's decision in ASG v GSA [2009] EWCA Civ 1574, a case also involving alleged blackmail, in which Waller LJ said:

As regards the point about the application being made without notice, it seems to me that if the allegation of blackmail is established, it would also be established that there was a serious risk that if given notice of the application of an injunction, the girl would have simply gone to the media and either sought to obtain money for publication or simply published. I would therefore respectfully disagree with the judge that it was not appropriate to bring this without notice application.

(Although ASG v GSA was decided in August 2009, it does not seem to have been transcribed until a year later.  The reason for the delay is unknown.)

Sharp J also considered Eady J's observations on prior notification of the media in TUV v Persons Unknown [2010] EWHC 853.  In that case Eady J said that the need for prior notification should be addressed according to the facts of each case.  He did not think it right that an applicant for an injunction should be required to give prior notice to every media group simply on the basis that they might be interested in the information in question.  It was sufficient to notify only those media groups who were already believed to have shown an interest in publishing.

See further section 3.9.1 of the Privacy Law Handbook