British Steel Corporation v Granada Television Ltd: CA 7 May 1980

Lord Denning MR said that the Norwich Pharmacal case opened ‘a new chapter in our law’ and ‘Mr Irvine suggested this was limited to cases where the injured person desired to sue the wrongdoer. I see no reason why it should be so limited. The same procedure should be available when he desires to obtain redress against the wrongdoer – or to protect himself against further wrongdoing.’
Templeman LJ: ‘In my judgment the principle of the Norwich Pharmacal case applies whether or not the victim intends to pursue action in the courts against the wrongdoer provided that the existence of a cause of action is established and the victim cannot otherwise obtain justice. The remedy of discovery is intended in the final analysis to enable justice to be done. Justice can be achieved against an erring employee in a variety of ways and a plaintiff may obtain an order for discovery provided he shows that he is genuinely seeking lawful redress of a wrong and cannot otherwise obtain redress. In the present case BSC state that they will not finally determine whether to take legal proceedings or whether to dismiss the employee or whether to obtain redress in some other lawful manner until they have considered the identity, status and excuses of the employee. The disclosure of the identity of the disloyal employee will by itself protect BSC and their innocent employees now and for the future and is essential if B.S.C. are to redress the wrong.’


Lord Denning MR, Templeman LJ


[1981] 1 All ER 435


England and Wales


CitedNorwich Pharmacal Co and others v Customs and Excise Commissioners HL 26-Jun-1973
Innocent third Party May still have duty to assist
The plaintiffs sought discovery from the defendants of documents received by them innocently in the exercise of their statutory functions. They sought to identify people who had been importing drugs unlawfully manufactured in breach of their . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromBritish Steel Corporation v Granada Television Ltd HL 7-May-1980
The defendant had broadcast a TV programme using material confidential to the plaintiff, who now sought disclosure of the identity of the presumed thief.
Held: (Lord Salmon dissenting) The courts have never recognised a public interest right . .
CitedAshworth Security Hospital v MGN Limited HL 27-Jun-2002
Order for Journalist to Disclose Sources
The newspaper published details of the medical records of Ian Brady, a prisoner and patient of the applicant. The applicant sought an order requiring the defendant newspaper to disclose the identity of the source of material which appeared to have . .
CitedMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Contempt of Court, Litigation Practice

Updated: 11 June 2022; Ref: scu.193375