Injunction - UK Superinjunctions

UK Superinjunctions

See also: 2011 British privacy injunctions controversy, Super-injunctions in English law, and Interdicts in Scots law

In England and Wales, injunctions whose existence and details may not be legally reported, in addition to facts or allegations which may not be disclosed, have been issued; they have been given the informal name of superinjunctions (or super-injunctions).

An example was the superinjunction raised in September 2009 by Carter-Ruck solicitors on behalf of oil trader Trafigura, prohibiting the reporting of an internal Trafigura report into the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump scandal. The existence of the superinjunction was revealed only when it was referred to in a parliamentary question that was subsequently circulated on the Internet (parliamentary privilege protects statements which would otherwise be held to be in contempt of court). Before it could be challenged in court, the injunction was then varied to permit reporting of the question. By long legal tradition, parliamentary proceedings may be reported without restriction. Parliamentary proceedings are only covered by qualified privilege. Another example of the use of a superinjunction was in a libel case in which a plaintiff who claimed he was defamed by family members in a dispute over a multimillion pound family trust obtained anonymity for himself and for his relatives.

Roy Greenslade credits the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, with coining the word "super-injunction" in an article about the Trafigura affair in September 2009.

The term "hyper-injunction" has also been used to describe an injunction similar to a superinjunction but also including an order that the injunction must not be discussed with members of Parliament, journalists or lawyers. One known hyper-injunction was obtained at the High Court in 2006, preventing its subject from saying that paint used in water tanks on passenger ships can break down and release potentially toxic chemicals. This example became public knowledge in Parliament under parliamentary privilege.

By May 2011, Private Eye claimed to be aware of 53 super-injunctions and anonymised privacy injunctions, though Lord Neuberger's report into the usage of super-injunctions revealed that only two super-injunctions had been granted since January 2010. Many media sources were wrongly stating that all gagging orders were super-injunctions.

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