An application for an injunction to restrain the First Respondent, a barrister, from continuing to act in a defamation proceedings for the Second Respondent, a government minister. The Applicant made this application on two grounds. First, that there was a danger that the First Respondent would use confidential information received from the Applicant in the course of acting in the defamation proceedings. Second, the need to protect the integrity of the judicial process and the proper administration of justice.
The court determined that a lawyer-client fiduciary relationship existed as the First Respondent provided legal advice to the Applicant, that information was provided in a circumstance where the First Respondent was acting as the Applicant’s legal representative, and that while some of the information given by the Applicant to the First Respondent was in the public domain, much of the information obtained was not.
The Court also determined that there was a risk that the confidential information would be relevant to the defamation proceedings. This was both because of the risk that the Applicant would be called as a witness in the defamation proceedings and also because parts of the information could be relevant to the issues in the defamation proceedings. Accordingly, the Court determined that there was a real risk that confidential information may be used if the Respondent was allowed to represent in the defamation proceedings.
The Court also considered the question of the administration of justice from the public’s view and determined that a fair-minded member of the public, with the knowledge that a lawyer-client relationship existed where confidential information was disclosed, would conclude that the Respondent should not act in the defamation proceedings given the risk of the inconsistency of competing interests of the Applicant and the government minister.
On these bases, the Court ordered an injunction for the Respondent to be restrained from acting in the defamation proceedings.
Michael Hodge QC (with S Chordia) appeared for the Applicant, instructed by Marque Lawyers.
The judgment is published here.