Lawyers leap to Carter-Ruck’s defence

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  • Kudos to The Lawyer for addressing the 'other side' of the argument (not many publications will).
    But while some of the interviewees' justifications might work from a legal perspective, they all miss the point about why the media are upset.
    It's not a question of whether injunctions themselves are wrong, as many of the commentators seem to suggest.
    Of course people have a right to complain and block unfair reporting.
    The point is that it's unacceptable - even undemocratic - to use an injunction, designed to protect personal privacy, to block reporting of parliamentary questions.
    The reason is simple: you can't have an accountable, transparent government otherwise.
    This much should be obvious but not one of the lawyers you quote even mentions it, except of course Gill Phillips.
    MPs' health issues and Ashley Cole's sex life have nothing to do with Trafigura's so-called super-injunction.
    And by the way, suggesting the media are trying to "curtail the right of its subjects to complain" is absurd in this context.

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  • I would be surprised if, in the future, any (decent) lawyer would bother spending thousands of pounds instructing a law firm to take out a "super-injunction" when Twitter/Facebook/Google will render it useless.

    It's also safe to say that Carter Ruck/Trafigura and Lord Bell (PR rep) have all shot themselves in the foot in this case.

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  • What a pathetic series of attempts to defend the indefensible. Carter Ruck must have known that the injunction could not override Parliamentary Privilege. The criticism is deserved.

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  • I was one of the organisers of the flashmob protest outside Carter Ruck's offices. "Only following the rule of law" is not much of a defence if that law is unjust, heavily skewed in favour of the rich, and detrimental to democracy. The notion that lawyers who choose to be complicit in the enforcement of such unjust, undemocratic laws should be immune from public criticism is absurd. Carter Ruck's attempts to interfere with the reporting of Parliament, and prevent the holding of a debate on this same issue, were inherently and overtly political actions. If a law firm chooses to engage in political activity, they should expect to find themselves the subject of peaceful, legal, political protests.

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  • "Carter-Ruck didn’t invent this,” another media partner said. “They had to look at [the injunction] on the basis of the facts and how it relates to the Human Rights Act.” "

    It may be a long time since my litigation seat, but I'm fairly sure that Carter-Ruck will have drafted the injunction and asked the Court to make the order. So yes, Media partner, I suspect Carter-Ruck did indeed invent this.

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  • What a shamefully biased and inaccurate article. It's garbage like this that gives the profession a bad name.

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  • What absolute nonsense.

    Carter-Ruck have embarrassed the entire profession. I haven't heard a single litigator agree with this shameless brown nosing.

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  • "For example, there could be an MP who has health issues - there’s no public interest argument there. "
    Of COURSE there's public interest there. Shouldn't the voting public know if an MP might be incapacitated from representing them? What if the Prime Minister had turned into a raving lunatic and was declaring war on squid? I should think that's exactly the sort of thing that newspapers should be publishing. How can a lawyer say there's NO public interest in that?

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  • A journalist defending what Carter Ruck tried to do to the press is appalling.
    It's worse than turkeys voting for Christmas. It's a kind sickly and willful collaboration that this paper and any other paper, whether legal trade or not, should be ashamed of.

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  • The journalist is not defending Carter Ruck, but putting forward the views of the people she spoke to.
    The recent campaign in the national press to berate lawyers is not without prejudice- they are after all the subject of the attack and more often than not paying extortionate legal costs.
    Here the article is saying that Carter Ruck (or any other media firm) doesn't operate in a little legal bubble of its own, created solely for the purposes of its work. It hasn't created a law especially for Carter Ruck clients.
    What it has done- with the consent of the court- is attempt to extend the law into the House of Commons. Admittedly that was a step too far, but it was the court's decision to allow the injunction to reach that far.
    This journalist is not defending Carter Ruck- what she is doing is putting forward the arguments and views of media lawyers who find themselves under attack from the national press which is reluctant to offer space to the claimant lawyers- or take their views constructively.
    I think it is a fair and balanced article.

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  • Sorry, but the article is wrong to frame the issue as a battle between "the media" and plaintiffs - it's a question of public policy. The article is wrong to ignore the PR disaster that Carter Ruck have wrought - a client should expect their lawyer be aware of such knock-on effects. Finally, the article is wrong to suggest that Carter Ruck had a reasonable legal argument in seeking to prevent the reporting of Parliamentary proceedings - the injunction failed the "giggle test" and Carter Ruck should have known that it would never survive appeal.

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  • The key line in this is "Lawyers accept that this was a PR disaster but that C-R was only following the rule of law..."
    We are told time and time again how lawyers are supposed to offer 'commercial' advice and not just trot out black letter law 'solutions'.
    In commercial terms it is difficult to imagine a greater catastrophe than this; C-R chancing its arm and finally (and thankfully) hitting the brick wall of Parliamentary Privilege to the utter detriment of its client (who, prior to this, most of the general public hadn't even heard of).
    The fact that other media lawyers are so quick to leap to C-R's defence is not the journalist's fault, but proof that this Gravy Train continues to roll.
    With the toothless, self-serving PCC on one side and the media lawyer battalions of the rich on the other, the UK press is neither properly regulated nor able to be censured by many of those on whom it inflicts the worst kind of damage. Between them, they contrive to create the worst of all possible worlds: a system where only the rich can defend themselves and Joe Public has virtually no chance of proper redress.

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  • It is interesting that so many comments excoriate Carter Ruck, and that Carter Ruck are to blame for the "PR disaster". We don't know what Carter Ruck advised Trafigura, but I'm sure it included advice on the risks of the action they were instructed to take. It looks to me like Trafigura took a calculated gamble, which didn't come off. The real interest, which only one comment mentions, is why the court decided to grant an order apparently interfering with Parliamentary privilege. It's part of a general constitutional development away from the absolute sovereignty of Parliament, and the answer to the question of who has ultimate sovereignty is still developing. Perhaps the Supreme Court?

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  • What role does the press play in the doctrine of separation of powers?

    One would have thought that lawyers act upon clients' instructions.

    Policy is anothr issue all together.

    Nice article.

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