Service Corporation International plc v Channel Four Television: ChD 1999

The court considered an application for an interlocutory injunction to restrain a broadcast, based on copyright. The defendant argued that this was merely an attempt to circumvent difficulties in a defamation action.
Held: Where an interim injunction in defamation would have been refused under the rule in Bonnard, it would be right to refuse such an injunction for parallel jurisdictions (in this case trespass and breach of copyright).
Lightman J said: ‘The plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to this relief on three grounds and I must consider each in turn. But before I do so I should consider the cause of action which is now disclaimed, and which was the initial basis of complaint, namely defamation. The reason that defamation is not and cannot be invoked is because no interlocutory injunction could be granted on this ground in view of the defendants’ plain and obvious intention to plead to any such claim the defence of justification. The invocation of other causes of action is necessary if there is to be any arguable claim to an interlocutory injunction. The rule prohibiting the grant of an injunction where the claim is in defamation does not extend to claims based on other causes of action despite the fact that a claim in defamation might also have been brought, but if the claim based on some other cause of action is in reality a claim brought to protect the plaintiffs’ reputation and the reliance on the other cause of action is merely a device to circumvent the rule, the overriding need to protect freedom of speech requires that the same rule be applied: : see Microdata v Rivendale [1992] FSR 681 and Gulf Oil v Page [1987] 1 Ch 327 at 334.
I have great difficulty in seeing the three alternative claims made in this case as other than attempts to circumvent the rule and to seek protection for the plaintiffs’ reputation.’


Lightman J


[1999] EMLR 83


England and Wales


CitedBonnard v Perryman CA 2-Jan-1891
Although the courts possessed a jurisdiction, ‘in all but exceptional cases’, they should not issue an interlocutory injunction to restrain the publication of a libel which the defence sought to justify except where it was clear that that defence . .
CitedMicrodata v Rivendale 1991
The need to protect freedom of speech overrode the need to protect a person’s trade reputation. . .
CitedGulf Oil (Great Britain) Limited v Page CA 1987
The plaintiff had contracted exclusively to supply to the defendants owners of petrol stations. On arrears arising, the plaintiff discontinued deliveries save on cash on delivery and direct debit terms. The defendants obtained supplies from another . .

Cited by:

CitedTillery Valley Foods v Channel Four Television, Shine Limited ChD 18-May-2004
The claimant sought an injunction to restrain the defendants broadcasting a film, claiming that it contained confidential material. A journalist working undercover sought to reveal what he said were unhealthy practices in the claimant’s meat . .
CitedBoehringer Ingelheim Ltd and others v Vetplus Ltd CA 20-Jun-2007
The claimants appealed refusal of an order restricting comparative advertising materials for the defendant’s competing veterinary medicine. The claimant said that the rule against prior restraint applicable to defamation and other tort proceedings . .
CitedRST v UVW QBD 11-Sep-2009
The applicant sought an interim and without notice injunction preventing the defendant from disclosing confidential information covered by an agreement between the parties.
Held: The order was made on a without notice application because there . .
CitedHeythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd (T/A Amazing Animals) and Another v Captive Animals Protection Society ChD 20-May-2016
The claimant said that the defendant had, through its members visiting their premises, breached the licence under which they entered, by taking photographs and distributing them on the internet, and in so doing also infringing the performance rights . .
CitedNT 1 and NT 2 v Google Llc QBD 13-Apr-2018
Right to be Forgotten is not absolute
The two claimants separately had criminal convictions from years before. They objected to the defendant indexing third party web pages which included personal data in the form of information about those convictions, which were now spent. The claims . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Litigation Practice, Defamation

Updated: 13 May 2022; Ref: scu.197007