Duchess of Argyll v Duke of Argyll: ChD 1967

An interlocutory injunction was granted to protect against the revelation of marital confidences, and the newspaper to which the Duke had communicated such information about the Duchess was restrained from publishing it. The concept of confidentiality was applied so as, in effect, to protect the privacy of communications between a husband and wife. Section 1(1)(b) prohibited the publication of certain details even although they were not injurious to public morals. The court concluded from this that part of the purpose of the Act was to protect those involved in divorce proceedings.
Ungoed-Thomas J said: ‘It seems to me that the policy of the law, so far from indicating that communication between husband and wife should be excluded from protection against breaches of confidence given by the court in accordance with Prince Albert v Strange, strongly favours its inclusion, and in view of that policy it can hardly be an objection that such communications are not limited to business matters. Of course, the relationship between husband and wife is a delicate relationship. As Atkin LJ said in the famous passage in Balfour v Balfour [1919] 2 KB 571, 579, at common law in respect of promises between husband and wife ‘each house is a domain into which the king’s writ does not seek to run, and to which his officers do not seek to be admitted’. But the protection of confidential communications between husband and wife is not designed to intrude into this domain but to protect it, not to break their confidential relationship but to encourage and preserve it.’

Ungoed-Thomas J
[1967] Ch 302
Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926
England and Wales
See AlsoDuke of Argyll v Duchess of Argyll HL 1962
The pursuer sought to protect the contents of her diary from publication using the law of confidence.
Held: Lord Reid said: ‘the effect, and indeed the purpose, of the law of confidentiality is to prevent the court from ascertaining the truth . .

Cited by:
CitedTchenguiz and Others v Imerman CA 29-Jul-2010
Anticipating a refusal by H to disclose assets in ancillary relief proceedings, W’s brothers wrongfully accessed H’s computers to gather information. The court was asked whether the rule in Hildebrand remained correct. W appealed against an order . .
CitedAMM v HXW QBD 7-Oct-2010
The claimant had sought and been granted an injunction to prevent the defendant publicising matters which had passed between them and which were he said private.
Held: The jurisdiction to grant such injunctions was now established. Publication . .
CitedGoldsmith and Another v BCD QBD 22-Mar-2011
The claimants sought damages, alleging that the defendants had hacked into their e-mail accounts. The defendant now sought protection of her identity through anonymisation of the case.
Held: Granted. . .
CitedPhillips v Mulcaire SC 24-May-2012
The claimant worked as personal assistant to a well known public relations company. She alleged that the defendant had intercepted telephone message given by and left for her. The court was asked first as to whether the information amounted to . .
CitedCoco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd ChD 1968
Requirememts to prove breach of confidence
A claim was made for breach of confidence in respect of technical information whose value was commercial.
Held: Megarry J set out three elements which will normally be required if, apart from contract, a case of breach of confidence is to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Updated: 28 December 2021; Ref: scu.250487