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Law and the Media, 4th Edition by Estelle Overs, Tom Cassels, Tom Crone

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12 Prior Restraint

Hugh Tomlinson QC

12.1 Introduction

The power of the courts to prevent publication in the media is the most stringent form of restricting freedom of expression. The basic principle is that jurisdiction to grant injunctions to restrain publication should only be used in ‘the clearest cases’ – cases in which the claimant can demonstrate that publication is wrongful and likely to cause irreparable harm. Prior restraint is extremely rare in defamation cases, but is much more readily granted where a breach of confidence or contempt of court is threatened. Since the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on 2 October 2000, the courts have, increasingly, been prepared to grant injunctions to restrain the publication of information ...

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