In a major change to the media litigation landscape, wholly new version of CPR 53 and its Practice Directions have been published along with a new Pre-Action Protocol for all media and communication claims.

The following will come into force from 1 October 2019

From that date the Media and Communications List will be a specialist list of the Queen’s Bench Division.  Media and Communications List Judges will be authorised by the President of the Queen’s Division to hear such claims. Judges of the Chancery Division may be designated as Media and Communications Judge (CPR 52.3(c)).

From 1 October 2019, all High Court claims which include

  • a claim for defamation
  • a claim for misuse of private private information;
  • a claim in data protection law; or
  • a claim for harassment by publication

must now be issued in the Media and Communications List (CPR 53.1(3)). A media and communications claim that is issued in a District Registry of the High Court must be transferred either to the County Court or to the Royal Courts of Justice (as appropriate).

The requirement that all data protection claims must now be issued in the new specialist list is particularly noteworthy.  Such claims have, up to now, been issued in the general lists in both Queen’s Bench and Chancery.

The new Practice Direction 53A makes provision about transfer into and out of the Media and Communications List.

The new Practice Direction 53B deals with statements of case in defamation, misuse of private information, misuse of confidential information, data protection and harassment by publication cases.  It should be noted that in “claims for harassment arising from publication or threatened publication via the media, online, or in speech” CPR r 65.28(1)(a) shall not apply, and the claim should be commenced under the Part 7 procedure (PD 53B, para 10.2).

The new Pre-Action Protocol for Media and Communications claims provides for letters of claim in defamation, privacy and confidence, data protection, and harassment.