Pickering v Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Newspapers plc: HL 1991

Damages were awarded for a breach of statutory duty where the claimant had suffered loss or damage by reason of the breach. The publication at issue went beyond reporting and ‘it reached deeply into the substance of the matter which the court had closed its doors to consider’. A mental health review tribunal is a court to which the law of contempt applies. As to section 19: ‘this definition must be intended to reflect the common law concept of what is a ‘court’ for the purposes of the common law jurisdiction of the courts in relation to contempt of court’.
Lord Donaldson gave two reasons why injunctions to restrain publication are rarely given: ‘Where the contempt would consist of impeding or prejudicing the course of justice, it will rarely be appropriate for two reasons . . The second is that it is the wise and settled practice of the courts not to grant injunctions restraining the commission of a criminal act (and contempt of court is a criminal or quasi-criminal act) unless the penalties available under the criminal law have proved to be inadequate to deter the commission of the offences. Unlawful street trading and breaches of the provisions of the Shops Acts are well-known examples.’


Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Donaldson


[1991] 2 AC 370, [1991] 2 WLR 513, [1990] 1 All ER 335


Contempt of Court Act 1981 19, Administration of Justice Act 1960 12


England and Wales


CitedRe W (Wards) (Publication of Information) FD 1989
An injunction was given to prohibit wards of court being named during the Cleveland child abuse inquiry. A summary of what has been said in court and written before hand in statements and reports are as much prohibited from publication as are direct . .

Cited by:

CitedT and others v Mental Health Review Tribunal and G Admn 22-Feb-2002
The applicant’s former partner, G, had been detained under the Act. She had obtained an injunction to keep him away, but whilst exercising staying contact with her child, he had killed his own parents, and was now detained. The tribunal had ordered . .
CitedCullen v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Northern Ireland) HL 10-Jul-2003
The claimant had been arrested. He had been refused access to a solicitor whilst detaiined, but, in breach of statutory duty, he had not been given reasons as to why access was denied. He sought damages for that failure.
Held: If damages were . .
CitedRegina v East London and the City Mental Health NHS Trust and Another ex parte Von Brandenburg (Aka Hanley) HL 13-Nov-2003
The patient was ordered to be discharged and released from hospital. The tribunal making the order had not accepted the medical recommendations. His release was deferred pending the finding of accommodation, but in the meantime, a social worker . .
CitedKent County Council v The Mother, The Father, B (By Her Children’s Guardian); Re B (A Child) (Disclosure) FD 19-Mar-2004
The council had taken the applicant’s children into care alleging that the mother had harmed them. In the light of the subsequent cases casting doubt on such findings, the mother sought the return of her children. She applied now that the hearings . .
CitedX v Dempster FD 9-Nov-1998
The columnist Nigel Dempster had written that the mother in forthcoming proceedings relating to a child was a bad mother.
Held: The article was a contempt of court. Such an allegation required proof to the criminal standard. At common law the . .
CitedKelly (A Minor) v British Broadcasting Corporation FD 25-Jul-2000
K, aged 16, had left home to join what was said to be a religious sect. His whereabouts were unknown. He had been made a ward of court and the Official Solicitor was appointed to represent his interests. He had sent messages to say that he was well . .
CitedMersey Care NHS Trust, Regina (on the Application of) v Mental Health Review Tribunal and others Admn 22-Jul-2004
Proceedings before the Mental Health Review Tribnal had been very nearly all held in private. The patient, Ian Brady sought to have his hearing in public.
Held: Beatson J approved the Tribunal’s reasons forfind that their privacy rules were a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Contempt of Court

Updated: 12 May 2022; Ref: scu.182789