Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004] UKHL 44

Human Right Law feature


Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004] concerned an interim injunction to prevent publication of confidential information prior to trial.


The case summary contains 426 words.


Media Law – Human Rights – Interim injunction – Publication of confidential information – Freedom of expression – Threshold – House of Lords


In Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004], one of the defendants, Ms Banerjee, obtained confidential information from her work, the claimant company (Cream Holdings Ltd). After the defendant’s dismissal from the company, she gave the confidential material to the publishers of two daily newspapers in Merseyside, the Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo. The defendant argued that the confidential information contained illegal and improper activities by the claimant company. The newspapers published articles asserting that one of the directors of Cream Holdings Ltd was bribing a local council official.

Interim injunction

Following the publication of part of the confidential information, the claimant company sought an interim injunction preventing the newspapers from publishing any further confidential information. The judge granted the injunction. The defendant appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and held that the company had “a real prospect at trial”. So, publication of the confidential information prior to trial would not be justified. The case reached the House of Lords.


Whether the courts should have granted the interim injunction based on “a real prospect at trial”.


The House of Lords disagreed with the lower court’s findings. In particular, a principal issue in the present case was to balance the freedom of expression against the prospect of success at trial. The House of Lords did not share the argument that the claimant company was simply required to show “a real prospect of success” to obtain an interim injunction. Instead, the claimant must advance an argument the case will probably succeed at trial. So, the threshold the claimant was required to meet was higher.

Thus, the House of Lords ruled that the courts should be very reluctant to grant interim injunction in favour of a party who is unable to establish that his case will more likely succeed at trial. So, a previous test – “a real prospect of success”, offered a lower threshold.

To sum up, the present case raised a bar for the applicants to obtain an interim injunction in order to prevent the publication of confidential information prior to trial.


See the full text of the judgment here.

References: [2004] UKHL 44; [2005] 1 A.C. 253; [2004] 3 W.L.R. 918; [2004] 4 All E.R. 617; [2004] 10 WLUK 325; [2005] E.M.L.R. 1; [2004] H.R.L.R. 39; [2004] U.K.H.R.R. 1071; 17 B.H.R.C. 464; (2005) 28(2) I.P.D. 28001; (2004) 101(42) L.S.G. 29; (2004) 154 N.L.J. 1589; (2004) 148 S.J.L.B. 1215; Times, October 15, 2004; [2005] C.L.Y. 2041.

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