Ian Health reports that Appleby, a firm at the centre of the Paradise Papers data leak, has hired a high-profile media lawyer to help block further releases of confidential client data. Health reports:
Appleby have maintained that the documents were illegally hacked from their files and have since initiated legal proceedings against the BBC and the Guardian, who they claim have not co-operated with information requests they have made.
The firm issued a claim for breach of confidence on 4 December, as well as an application for disclosure and information. Appleby says that it needs to know what documents were taken from its files so it can advise its clients.
Read more on Jersey Evening Post.
For its part, Appleby issued the following media statement to explain its reasons for its litigation:
“The first procedural hearing in relation to Appleby’s legal action against the Guardian and the BBC took place on Tuesday 16 January. Mrs Justice Rose has reserved her decision and both parties will be notified when this decision is reached.
Appleby issued a claim for breach of confidence against the BBC and The Guardian on 4 December 2017. It simultaneously issued an application for disclosure and information from the BBC and the Guardian.
Appleby’s main objective of this application, and indeed the proceedings as a whole, is to understand which of our confidential and privileged documents were stolen by hackers so that we can for example respond meaningfully to clients and colleagues about what information, relating to them, has been taken. This is something that we have repeatedly requested over a period of months and has always been refused by BBC and Guardian journalists.
This case is not about trying to identify journalistic sources or suppressing freedom of speech. We do not understand how us being informed of what documents have been taken could lead to the identification of any source. In addition, correspondence shows that we did all we could to co-operate with the BBC and the Guardian before their publication deadlines.
This case is about taking reasonable and proportionate steps to identify what information has been stolen from us. Our claim is narrow in its main focus. It is for breach of confidentiality including most importantly in legally privileged documents.
Reluctantly we have concluded that in the absence of any voluntary co-operation from the BBC and the Guardian, the only way for us to find out what information has been stolen, which we are morally obliged to provide to our clients and colleagues, is through the courts”.
Please ensure this statement is published or included in its entirety in any article and attributed to Appleby.
Appleby wish to make no further comment in this regard.
So… what do you think about the litigation now that you’ve read their statement? Do you think they have a valid justification?
If this case was here, the media could use the data they had been provided and would have no obligation not to publish it. Could a victim here get an injunction barring further releases of data from a hack or leak under the circumstances of this case? I almost think they couldn’t, but then, IANAL and all those other disclaimers.
But that’s just one aspect: further disclosure. The other issue is providing a victim with information on the scope of a hack or breach. If this was in the U.S., it would not be the BBC’s or the Guardian’s responsibility to provide forensics or breach investigation help to Appleby. But what about in the U.K.? What is the law there?
I’m intrigued that Appleby has retained Hugh Tomlinson QC. I can understand Tomlinson representing them on the issue of further disclosure, as he has represented clients who wished to suppress publication of embarrassing details. But does Tomlinson accepting this case mean that he actually believes that the media has a duty to not publish material of high public interest and import and/or to assist breach victims by revealing what data they received? I’m somewhat shocked if that would be his position, so I’ll be watching this case.