Privacy injunction applications are to be formally monitored under a pilot scheme launched by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger.
The scheme was first proposed by Lord Neuberger’s super-injunction committee in May. It runs for 12 months from 1 August.
The Ministry of Justice will collect and publish, in anonymised form, information about applications for an injunction where s12 of the Human Rights Act 1998, freedom of expression, is engaged. The scheme applies to any civil proceedings in the High Court or Court of Appeal in which the court “considers an application for an injunction prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information, the continuation of such an injunction, or an appeal against the refusal of such an injunction”.
The details of the scheme are contained in Practice Direction 51F. On hearing an application for a non-disclosure injunction or any appeal against the grant or refusal of such an injunction, the judge will fill in a form recording the claim or application number, the type of injunction applied for, whether any derogation from the principles of open justice were sought, and whether the hearing was on notice to defendants or affected third parties.
Proceedings covered by the Family Proceedings Rules 2010, immigration or asylum proceedings, or proceedings which raise issues of national security will not be monitored. Lord Neuberger has also published the final version of his best practice guidance for interim injunctions.
Its recommendations include that derogations from the general principle of open justice “can only be justified in exceptional circumstances, when they are strictly necessary as measures to secure the proper administration of justice… Derogations should, where justified, be no more than strictly necessary to achieve their purpose”.
Anonymity should only be granted where “strictly necessary”, and the burden of establishing any derogation lies on the person seeking it. The media should be given advance notice unless there are “compelling reasons”, but “different considerations” may apply to tweeters, bloggers and internet-based organisations, or where there are allegations of blackmail.