There has been a substantial decline in the number of new claims issued in the Media and Communications List of the Queen’s Bench Division (“the M&C List”) in the first 6 months of 2022. A total of 100 new claims were issued, an annual rate of 200. This is only 35% of the 564 new claims issued in 2021 and 53% of the 373 claims issued in 2020.
A public search on the HM Courts and Tribunals E-Filing Service reveals interesting information about the breakdown of these cases. Analysis of the claims issued in the half of 2022, shows substantial differences in the number of issued claims in each category and some interesting changes since 2021 and 2020 (see here for our analysis of claims in 2021 and for a full analysis of 2020 claims by Robert Sharp see here).
Of the 100 new claims issued in the M&C List between 1 January and 30 June 2022 85 were Part 7 claims. The majority of the Part 8 claims were for Norwich Pharmacal orders.
In contrast to the position in 2021 where the majority of claims were for data protection, the largest category of issued claims in the first half of 2022 was defamation (53 claims, 53% of the total). This is an annual rate of 106 which is 37% less than in 2021 (168 defamation claims issued) and substantially less than 2020 (147) and 2019 (323).
There were 6 defamation claims issued against national newspaper groups, an annual rate of 12. This is a substantial increase on 2021 where there were only 5 defamation claims against newspapers (2020, 21).
The most important factor in the decline in the number of issued claims is the very substantial drop off in data protection claims. There were only 10 data protection claims in the first six months of 2022 – an annual rate of only 20 claims (10%). In contrast, in 2021 there were 293 new data protection claims issued (52% of the total) whereas in 2020 there were 126 data protection claims (33% of the total).
As Kirsten Sjøvoll pointed out in a post in April 2022, the decline in the number of issued data protection claims is likely to be the combined result of the decisions in Warren v DSG Retail  EWHC 2168 (QB) and Lloyd v Google  UKSC 50. Data protection claims are now likely to be brought, if at all, in the County Court.
As always, we remind readers that these figures must be viewed with some caution. The classification of cases is an administrative act and is not always accurate (see our post here on the discrepancy between the Judicial Statistics and the efiling system). Many cases include claims for several causes of action and their categorisation may not reflect the substantive nature of the case. Nevertheless, the trend in the first half of 2022 is clear – a huge decline in data protection claims and a substantial decrease in defamation claims.