In Clarkson Plc v Person or Persons Unknown  EWHC 417 (QB), the court granted the claimant’s application for a final injunction by way of default judgment without holding a hearing.
The unknown defendants had illegally obtained sensitive IT information belonging to the claimant, a shipping company, and had threatened to disclose this information unless the claimant paid them substantial sums of money.
The Judge decided to grant a final injunction “on the papers” without the need for a hearing:
- Referring to PJS v News Group Newspapers Limited  EWHC 2770 (QB) which had also been decided “on the papers”, the judge explained that CPR 23.8 provides for exceptions to the general rule that hearings are carried out in public.
- In this matter, the judge relied on CPR 23.8(c), which allows for the court to deal with an application without a hearing where it does not consider that a hearing would be appropriate.
- The judge reiterated that dealing with a case “on the papers” is not incompatible with the open justice principle: in this specific matter, a hearing would have added expense without serving a purpose, as the defendants, being unknown, had failed to engage with the proceedings and nobody could benefit from the advantages of an open hearing.
- The online publication of a judgment would be more effective in bringing the decision to the attention of others. In addition, the case had not proceeded in secret, as there had already been two public hearings and two public judgments on 27 November and 14 December 2017.
- Finally, as the claimant had taken all reasonable steps to notify (by email) the defendants who had not wished to identify themselves, the conditions for granting a judgment in default under CPR12.3(1) had been met.
This case shows that the Courts are willing to depart from the usual procedure of holding public court hearings and will grant final injunctions “on the papers” in appropriate cases.
Clarkson Plc v Person or Persons Unknown  EWHC 417 (QB)