Section 10 DPA and Youtube videos: Court grants wide perpetual injunction

Al-Ko Kober Ltd and Paul Jones v Balvinder Sambhi [2017] EWHC 2474 (QB) is, rather improbably, a DPA case about caravan tow-bars and braking systems. A commercial operator used Youtube videos to malign a competitor business and its marketing manager, until the High Court (Mrs Justice Whipple) granted injunctions last week.

The Defendant sought to develop and market rival caravan braking systems to those offered by the first Claimant. His marketing strategy involved making 84 videos denouncing Al-Ko Kober and Mr Jones as ‘killers’ (on account of allegedly unsafe products) involved in a ‘scam’, and so on. (He also called the Claimants’ solicitor a ‘baboon’ in correspondence, but that is by the bye).

There was no evidence that his deliberately and seriously damaging statements about the Claimants were true. The Court had no hesitation in finding the statements to be false. Any future publications would thus be malicious, and the injunction in malicious falsehood was granted.

The individual Claimant also sought relief under s. 10(4) DPA. He had made a s. 10(1) notice requiring the Defendant to stop publishing words and images about him. The Defendant refused, on the grounds that his Youtube videos only used personal data about Mr Jones that was available in the public domain. The Court was quick to conclude that “there is no public domain exception to s. 10 of the DPA”.

Relief under s. 10 followed suit: “The use of his personal data extends far beyond the sort of criticism which a senior employee of a large commercial organisation might have to put up with in the ordinary course. Mr Jones is being vilified and menaced by the way in which his personal data has been used and manipulated in the videos. This is an unwarranted attack on him personally”.

A perpetual injunction was granted (following Law Society v Kordowski) in these very wide terms: “Mr Sambhi must not process, further process or cause or permit to be processed any audio recording, video recording, still photograph or other information, including by disclosing the same to the public, amounting to Mr Jones’s personal data for the purposes of the DPA”.

The Court also chided the Defendant for not being registered with the ICO as a data controller.

Nothing unsurprising here, given the factual context. But a good illustration of how s. 10 notices can be used to robust effect.

Robin Hopkins @hopkinsrobin