The UK’s Super Injunctions

I, like many people no doubt, have one of those guilty pleasures that make little sense yet is so enthralling: reading up on the lives of the rich and famous. It is actually surprising how great a role law plays in the lives of celebrities, seeing how often the press reports on how they break, bend and use the law to their advantage , but one expression, new to me, has recently caught my eye: the super injunction.

Over the past few months, the British media have been reporting on these so-called super injunctions, which go beyond the prohibition of publishing a person’s name and the details of their private lives in a public forum; these injunctions are so “super” that their mere existence cannot even be mentioned. Accordingly, when a super injunction is granted, the public does not even know that there is a story to be told. 

As you can imagine, such injunctions raise a slew of questions regarding freedom of the press and the public’s right to know versus the right to a private life. It is said that these super injunctions cost tens of thousands of pounds to obtain and as such, are only accessible to the wealthy. For all of these reasons, they have been heavily criticized in the press. 

Parliament and the British legal system are said to want to address these situations (for example, see here) . A British parliamentary committee was mandated last year to look into super injunctions.

As with many things nowadays, the explosion of social media has broken the traditional barriers of the law and created unprecedented issues to deal with: over the weekend, the alleged existence of several super injunctions, with the names of the celebrities supposedly having requested them, were anonymously published on Twitter (see here for an article by the BBC). Of course, given the fact that the existence of a super injunction is kept under wraps and that the press would be in violation of such an order if it discussed it, there is no way of actually verifying or confirming this information. But regardless, this created the exact situation the super injunction was being used to counter in the first place: indeed, rumours and stories concerning a person’s private life have been rampantly circulating…

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