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Super-Injunctions have recently come under intense Media and Legal Scrutiny as Celebrity Affairs and Reported Blackmail hit the headlines

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Only since 2000, when the Human Rights Act incorporated in the European Convention on Human Rights into English law, have the courts been able to firmly enforce the right to privacy (Article 8) in balance with the freedom of expression (Article 10).

Super-injunctions evolved as a powerful means of protecting privacy where there was a reasonable expectation of such when engaging in a particular activity. Unless there is a genuine public interest in a story, the court may impose a super-injunction, blocking the media from publishing both the story, and the existence of the injunction itself. To ensure that media organisations do not inadvertently publish information covered by such injunctions, they are informed of the details of the order. While privacy is protected in this manner, the freedom of the press in terms of expression is hampered and the story becomes untouchable to them.

Super-injunctions are not granted lightly. They last until a trial occurs for breach of privacy, but to obtain one in the first place, enough evidence must be provided to show that they would be likely to win at trial and obtain a full injunction. Legal advice when seeking injunctions is of course invaluable however it is widely reported that only the 'rich' have the resources to obtain and 'hide' behind such advanced injunctions.

Anonymised orders are another option whereby the names of the parties involved in an issue are kept from the public, but not the existence of the injunction. Alternatives such as this may however fuel gossip in celebrity circles in particular as speculation as to the involved parties to a story is rife. With social networking at an all-time high on sites such as Twitter, those who can, are seeking the most powerful protection possible. The tweets of unnamed individuals are however in a different league to the publication of stories by well-known media organisations, just as there is a difference between an order that will protect the integrity of a trial and a gagging order. The degree of the protection offered by super-injunctions in social, legal and political circumstances is to be debated more than ever before.

Rollingsons Solicitors is able to advise on all types of injunctive relief and other privacy concerns. If you would like further guidance, please contact us on 020 7611 4848 or at