In an application for directions in a summary judgment application, Mr Justice Kitchen has found that material pertaining to Prince Charles’ journals, in which he recorded inter alia his impressions of his visit to 1997 Hong Kong should remain confidential pending the outcome of the summary judgment proceedings.
This round of the proceedings concerned journals listed in Confidential Schedule 1 to the Particulars of Claim and the contents of pages 1 and 2 of Confidential Exhibit 2 (a list of the recipients of the Hong Kong Journal and an example of a copy covering letter that accompanied that journal).
Kitchin J found that both sets of evidence were confidential (the defendant, Associated Newspapers, had accepted that this was the case with regard to Confidential Exhibit 2).
The judge also made an order under CPR 31.22. CPR 31.22 allows orders to be made “restricting or prohibiting the use of a document which has been disclosed [in legal proceedings], even where the document has been read to or by the court, or referred to, at a hearing which has been held in public”. Here there were good reasons for departing from the usual rule of publicity. The documents in issue were closely related to the very subject matter which Prince Charles was seeking to protect by means of this action for breach of confidence. Any chilling effect on third parties would be limited. Moreover, making the order would facilitate a public hearing by putting proper safeguards in place to protect the confidential information.
The IPKat reckons that this case promises to be excellent sport. In particular, the issue of which of and to what extent the Prince’s activities are in the public domain – a matter touched on briefly in the application - will be very tricky.