Monday, 19 October 2009

Trafigura and super-injunctions

Can't believe I haven't blogged this yet... this has been a massive week for the law, freedom of speech and social media.

Should a company be allowed to obtain an injunction restricting the press from reporting something, AND restricting the press from reporting the injunction itself?

Oil-trading company Trafigura have been in hot water, accused of dumping potentially toxic waste off the Ivory Coast, which was alleged to have caused illness and injury to many people.

They commissioned a scientific report into the matter, and then attempted to keep it secret, presumably not liking the contents, which included the idea that the dumping of waste could hace caused effects such as severe burns to the skin and lungs, eye damage, permanent ulceration, coma and death (although the report was expressed in cautious terms).

Clearly those people suing Trafigura for personal injury would have liked to see this report!

Last month Trafigura paid residents of Abidjan in Ivory Coast £30m plus costs in a confidential out of court settlement.

Before the settlement announcement, Trafigura's lawyers Carter-Ruck obtained a super-injunction from Court, banning the press not only from revealing the existence of the Minton report, but also from telling anyone about the existence of the injunction. They also attempted to stop reports of questions about this matter that were asked in Parliament.

As a result Trafigura and their lawyers have been accused of trying to gag Parliament and infringe on freedom of speech. Another feature of this case was the pressure applied by people using Twitter, who were outraged by the injunction!

Read Charlie Brooker on this here.

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