Attorney General for England & Wales v Brandon Book Publishers Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMiss Justice Carroll
Judgment Date01 January 1987
Neutral Citation1986 WJSC-HC 1
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[1986 No. 11243P],No. 11243P/1986
Date01 January 1987

1986 WJSC-HC 1

The High Court

No. 11243P/1986
A G FOR ENGLAND & WALES v. BRANDON BOOK PUBLISHERS LTD

Between:

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
Plaintiff

and

BRANDON BOOK PUBLISHERS LIMITED
Defendant

Citations:

AG V GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS LTD & ORS 1987 1 WLR 1248 1987 3 AER 316

AG V THE OBSERVER LTD & ORS 26/7/86 THE TIMES

ARGYLL V ARGYLL 1967 CH 302

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA V JOHN FAIRFAX & SONS LTD 147 CLR 39

CONSTITUTION ART 40.6.1

HOUSE OF SPRING GARDENS V POINT BLANK 1984 IR 611

Synopsis:

CONSTITUTION

Personal rights

Freedom of expression - Public interest - Confidentiality - Memoirs of deceased member of British Secret Service - Intention of defendant to publish memoirs - Defendant being an Irish company - Plaintiff applied for interlocutory injunction restraining publication by defendant - Application dismissed - Held that the defendant company had a constitutional right to publish information which did not involve breach of copyright - Held that the public interest would not be affected by the publication - Held that no breach of confidentiality in a private or commercial setting was involved - Held that there was no absolute confidentiality between a Government and an individual - Material read by judge before delivering judgment - Article 40 - (1986/11243 P - Carroll J. - 2/12/86) - [1986] IR 597 - [1987] ILRM 135

|Attorney General for England and Wales v. Brandon Book Publishers~

EQUITY

Confidence

Breach - Foreign government - Public servant of foreign government - Memoirs of deceased servant - Complaint by foreign government that memoirs of deceased constituted a breach of confidence - Intention of defendant to publish memoirs - Defendant being an Irish company - Foreign government sought interlocutory injunction restraining publication - Held that, as The public interest was not involved, the defendant had an absolute right under the Constitution to publish the memoirs - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 40 - (1986/11243 P - Carroll J. - 2/12/86) - [1986] IR 597 - [1987] ILRM 135

|Attorney General for England and Wales v. Brandon Book Publishers~

1

Judgment of Miss Justice Carrolldelivered the 2nd day of December 1986

2

The Plaintiff has come to Court seeking to restrain the publication of a book written by a deceased member of the British Secret Service which I have read overnight.

3

This case is based solely on the principle of confidentiality as no considerations of public interest arise in this jurisdiction. The Plaintiff claims that the confidentiality derives from the employment of the authoress.

4

Any consideration of the question of preventing publication of material of public interest must be viewed in the light of the Constitution. Article 40 (6) (1) guarantees liberty for the exercise of the right of citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions subject to public order and morality. In the expansion of that, the article refers to the organs of public opinion preserving their rightful liberty ofexpression provided it is not used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. There is no question of public order or morality or the authority of the State being undermined here. Therefore in my opinion there is prima facie, a constitutional right to publish information and the onus rests on the Plaintiff to establish, in the context of an interlocutory application, that the constitutional right of the Defendantshould not be exercised.

5

Counsel for the Plaintiff has referred to House of Spring Gardens Limited and Others .v. Point Blank Limited and Others ( 1984 I.R.611). The judgment of Costello J. was cited with approval by O'Higgins C.J. at page 696. The principles which he formulated were based on a consideration of a number of cases, all of which concerned obligations of confidence between private parties, e.g. privately printed etchings, a secret recipe for compounding medicine, copyright in drawings for tools, information about folding buildings, information about a Swiss patent, information about a carpet grip, a private report by a Public Relations Consultant to the Greek Government and information communicated by inventors in the course of business negotiations. All of these instances in which the Court came to the protection of the imparter of information had a private or an industrial or...

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