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    Thursday, 22 April 2010

    Prior notification obligations are like buses...

    An interesting decision was handed down by the High Court today with regard to the process by which interim injunctions are awarded in privacy cases. It was delivered by Mr Justice Eady (TUV v Person or Persons Unknown [2010] EWHC 853 (QB)) and concerns the extent to which a claimant seeking an injunction is bound to notify third party media organisations of pending applications for interim relief so that they might present legal argument to the court.

    Mr Justice Eady noted that it would not be "appropriate to adopt a blanket approach or apply a rule of thumb" (para 23), and that "a sensible balance of competing rights would generally be achieved by requiring them only to serve those whom they have reason to believe will have an interest in the story. They should not be required to speculate or guess, but if there are solid grounds in the light of the available evidence to think that a particular media group has shown an interest in the material, it is right that they should be notified "(para 24). Hence, the law "should only impose an obligation to notify those who are already believed to have shown some interest in publishing" (para 26).

    The issue mirrors the case brought by Max Mosley to Strasbourg (accepting that in his scenario the court is not exercising any power to award or not award an injunction, rather it is not being allowed an opportunity to do so by the choice of the media organisation - see the Inforrm blog for links to the intervention arguments proffered to the court by a number of media bodies and others), and obviously picks up similar issues to the Irish case Meegan decided recently under the new Defamation Act there - see the Irish Times and Inforrm.

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