After much anticipation, the Supreme Court has flexed its muscles by making clear that the English legal system won’t be bullied by the media. By a majority of 4 to 1, five Supreme Court Justices today overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal to discharge an injunction obtained by an individual known as PJS. The injunction related to information concerning PJS’s extra-marital sex life. The Supreme Court decided that the publication of the information (and PJS’s identity) in print in the USA, Canada and Scotland, as well as on the internet and social media, did not eliminate the purpose of the injunction. It held that the publication of the story by the English media in hard copy would likely “add significantly to the overall intrusiveness and distress involved”. The Court also noted that criticism of alleged infidelity by celebrities cannot of itself be justified as being in the public interest.
Despite the publicity generated by the court proceedings, this decision underlines that privacy injunctions can exist in the era of the internet and social media. Those that predicted their demise have been proved wrong. The Supreme Court concluded that there was still value in preventing a story being emblazoned all over the front pages of the national press. Given the furore the case has caused, celebrities and high net worth individuals will naturally be cautious about seeking injunctions. However, where the stakes are high and especially where the individual’s reputation is significant in this jurisdiction, the privacy injunction remains one of a number of useful tools.
For further articles on the PJS injunction by members of the Reputation Management team please see the following: