U.K. super-injunctions face scrutiny

Recent event involving soccer star highlights weaknesses of broad information-disclosure protections.

When the press (or any individual) threatens to run an unfavorable story, an injunction is one of the most powerful tools at a company or public figure’s disposal. With an injunction, proprietary or potentially damaging information can be kept out of the public sphere until such time, if ever, it is appropriate for it to be released. At most, the press can mention that there is information it is prohibited from distributing.

In the United Kingdom, the protective umbrella of an injunction can be opened even wider. A super-injunction, not available in the U.S., prohibits disclosure not only of the protected information, but of the existence of the injunction itself.

Footballer Fallout

By their very nature, super-injunctions should receive no attention. However, recent events have brought focus to them in the U.K., where soccer player Ryan Giggs’ breached super-injunction has received substantial media attention. In that case, the court granted the football star the injunction. (see “Giggs Up”).

Jurisdiction Limits

In the case of Twitter, which is based in California, the British courts have little authority to take action against the company itself or its users unless Twitter cooperates with requests for disclosure, which it has in some instances, Linneker says.  

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