Napier and Another v Pressdram Ltd: CA 19 May 2009

The claimant solicitors appealed against the refusal to grant them an injunction to prevent the publication of the outcome of a complaint against them to the Law society, and of the Ombudsman’s report. They said that the material remained confidential.
Held: There had been confusion about the way the complaints scheme operated, and as to what was and was not confidential. It was the practice of the Law Society not to publish its adjudication, but that was a policy choice rather than because of any legal duty not to do so. Nor could the complainant be said to have subscribed to any obligation of confidentiality, or the Law Society have imposed one. There was no basis for requiring the complainant not to publish the results of the complaint as he wished.
Toulson LJ said: ‘For a duty of confidentiality to be owed (other than under a contract or statute), the information in question must be of a nature and obtained in circumstances such that any reasonable person in the position of the recipient ought to recognise that it should be treated as confidential. As Cross J observed in Printers and Finishers Limited v Holloway [1965] RPC 239, 256, the law would defeat its own object if it seeks to enforce in this field standards which would be rejected by the ordinary person. Freedom to report the truth is a precious thing both for the liberty of the individual (the libertarian principle) and for the sake of wider society (the democratic principle), and it would be unduly eroded if the law of confidentiality were to prevent a person from reporting facts which a reasonable person in his position would not perceive to be confidential.’

Hughes LJ, Toulson LJ, Sullivan LJ
[2009] EWCA Civ 443, Times 02-Jun-2009, [2009] EMLR 21, [2010] 1 WLR 934
England and Wales
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and others HL 14-Oct-2004
On her dismissal from the claimant company, Ms Banerjee took confidential papers revealing misconduct to the local newspaper, which published some. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent any further publication. The defendants argued that the . .
CitedWhite v Office for the Supervision of Solicitors and others Admn 17-Dec-2001
The claimant solicitor sought a judicial review, on the grounds of procedural unfairness, of the decisions of the respondent in upholding complaints against him. The procedure involved several stages, an investigatory stage, an adjudication, an . .
CitedPrinters and Finishers Limited v Holloway 1965
The court considered the questions arising from the use of information acquired by an employee during his employment after that employment had ended, and noted that information the future use of which will not be restrained is information not . .
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 . .
CitedDepartment of Economic Policy and Development of City of Moscow and Another v Bankers Trust Company and Another CA 25-Mar-2004
The word ‘private’ in rule 39.2 means the same as ‘secret’. Lord Justice Mance said: ‘It may be equated with the old ‘in camera’ procedure, rather than the old ‘in chambers’ procedure.’ Privacy and confidentiality are features long assumed to be . .

Cited by:
CitedThe Author of A Blog v Times Newspapers Ltd QBD 16-Jun-2009
The claimant, the author of an internet blog (‘Night Jack’), sought an order to restrain the defendant from publishing his identity.
Held: To succeed, the claimant would have to show that there would be a legally enforceable right to maintain . .
CitedRhodes v OPO and Another SC 20-May-2015
The mother sought to prevent a father from publishing a book about her child’s life. It was to contain passages she said may cause psychological harm to the 12 year old son. Mother and son lived in the USA and the family court here had no . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Media, Intellectual Property

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.346190