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Secret judgment lifts lid on other secret judgment

By Steven | July 31, 2009

You might have missed it, but last week news emerged that Kirstin Dunne-Powell has obtained an injunction against Tony Veitch to prevent him publicly disclosing private and confidential material about her.

Apparently she filed for the injunction shortly after Veitch pleaded guilty, back in April. That evening, Veitch had told Close Up that he “did some investigating” when he was preparing to defend the charges and “I went and I dug and I went through records and I went through disclosure and you know what… I had a good time and I found stuff.”

What that stuff is, and whether it’s even the stuff that Dunne-Powell is trying to keep under wraps, I don’t know.

She applied for an interim injunction ex parte (ie without giving notice to the defendants) on the basis of infringement of privacy and breach of confidence, and it was granted.

Why didn’t we know about this earlier? Because Justice Lang’s order required even the existence of the proceeding to be kept secret.

I think this is extraordinary. I’m not aware of any other specific case where this has ever happened, except A v Hunt in the High Court, where such an order was made by consent. I’d be very interested to know if anyone else knows of this happening in other cases, particularly in the civil arena. When I asked the Ministry of Justice for statistics on orders like this, the information provided suggested that either this doesn’t happen much – or else that records of it aren’t kept.

Anyway, Fairfax went into battle and got Justice Potter to lift the order suppressing publication of the existence of the lawsuit . I’d like to talk about the Justice Potter’s reasoning, but… you guessed it, the contents of the rest of that decision are suppressed too. Goodness knows why. There’s nothing in it that reveals what the private and confidential material might be. It’s absurd that I can’t publicly discuss the legal reasoning behind the decision to lift the suppression order.

Topics: Breach of confidence, Injunctions, Privacy tort | No Comments »


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