Everything you need to know about privacy injunctions
If someone has published or is intending to publish private information about you, sets up internet pages about you, creates a website with your name as the URL or impersonates you with a social media account (online impersonation), you can apply for a privacy injunction to stop them from misusing your private information.
Privacy injunctions are court orders which prohibits publication of what is considered by the court private information. The private information may be true of false. When you apply, you do not necessarily admit that either the information is true or that it is not. It is enough that the information is of private nature for it to be subjected to an injunction.
The injunction could relate the many types of private information. For example, to sexual preferences, to private images, to religious beliefs, to matters which are not unlawful but which you might be embarrassed to be publicly disclosed, or which you want to keep private for your own reasons. The fact that some parts of society might find your conduct distasteful is irrelevant and often your desire to keep the matter private will take priority over the right of the public to become aware of a side of your personality they might dislike.
There is a misconception that privacy injunctions are something that only celebrities and wealthy individuals can obtain. It is true that because of the obvious intrusion into celebrities' private lives, it is more likely that someone will try to cross the line and publish something they should not. It is also true that this type of injunction could be costly and therefore wealthy individuals can afford to obtain them whilst the rest of the public is likely to find the costs of obtaining one prohibitive.
However, this might sound rather surprising, but the reality is that we can all find ourselves in a situation where we might need to apply to the court for a privacy injunction. It could be because of a partner who is threatening to publish intimate information, or a stranger who is blackmailing you following something you did from the privacy of your home. An example might be a personal relationship that you developed with someone over the internet who turned out to be fraudster and who is now blackmailing you.
The legal costs that are associated with obtaining privacy injunctions could be high but often the cost would be in direct correlation with the law firm that you have instructed. It is not unheard of for some law firms to charge more than 10x (for applying for a privacy injunction) than an equally able law firm who is smaller and less glitzy. Often the differences could be huge and completely unnecessary.
Still, whichever way you look at it, an application for a privacy injunction would still cost anything between £10,000-£100,000, depending where you go and often it will be the same solicitors, barristers and judges who attend 90% of the privacy applications in London.
In the case of Lindsey Goldrick Dean v Paul Curran, solicitor Yair Cohen, applied for a privacy injunction after Ms Goldrick Dean was harassed by Paul Curran who published websites which carried her name and which included URLs with her name and other information she preferred to keep private.
In the case of GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN, Mr Cohen successfully applied for a privacy injunction on behalf of a sex worker whose livelihood was at risk because of (false) publications that she was HIV/Aids positive and publication of her being transgender, which she considered to be a private matter.
In the case of DDF v YYZ, the court allowed Yair Cohen's application for an injunction on behalf of a celebrity who had been threatened with a publication claiming that he was gay.
In the case of BVG v LAR, the court granted a privacy injunction, this time for an application on behalf of a businessman who had been blackmailed with the publication of intimate images and videos of him concerning his sexual activity.
It is unlikely that the police will be able to help you obtain a privacy injunction. In fact, if you contact the police there is a good chance that your name will be revealed to the world, at one point or another, because criminal cases are open to the public and the press is free to report from criminal proceedings.
Furthermore, it is likely that by the time your case is investigated and the perpetrator is taken to court, there would be dozens of people working for the police, the prosecution and for the defence who will become privy to your name and to the private information you were trying to protect. Contrast this with an application for an injunction by an intimate, niche law firm where the only people who know who you are are your lawyers who promptly apply to anonymise your name from all legal documents.
The biggest challenge in applying for a privacy injunction is the requirement to secure sufficient evidence which would convince the court that the victim's right to privacy has been breached or is about to be be breached.
The second biggest challenge is the identification of the defendant, if they are anonymous although, often, it is possible to take out a privacy injunction against 'person unknown'.
The third biggest challenge in applying for a privacy injunction is a claim by the defendant that there is public interest in the publications of information which you seek to keep private. A responsible solicitor will make sure that you can overcome those challenges before you make your privacy injunction application.