Settlement agreed in Appleby's breach of confidence litigation against media

Tuesday, 08 May 2018

Offshore law firm Appleby Global has reached a settlement with the BBC and the Guardian newspaper regarding its breach of confidence claim for their use of stolen client documents.

Details of the settlement were not released, but the two defendants have assured Appleby that the vast majority of documents used in their so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ investigations related to a fiduciary business that is no longer owned by Appleby. These documents were thus not legally privileged, says Appleby.

Appleby launched the litigation in December, in an attempt to discover exactly what documents had been disclosed, so that they could tell clients and colleagues what information of theirs had been stolen. It says the resolution of the legal action puts it 'well on our way to achieving our objectives'.

The Paradise Papers material, amounting to over 13 million documents, was hacked from Appleby's Bermuda office, and other sources, last year by an unknown person and passed to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The BBC does not know the identity of the source. It formed the basis of several stories by the Guardian and two episodes of the BBC's Panorama programme. These demonstrated that wealthy investors sometimes use international financial centres to mitigate their tax liabilities, but did not reveal any actual illegality. One of the individuals whose business affairs were featured in the Panorama programme on 5 November 2017 is known to be suing the BBC for libel.

The Guardian and the BBC said the litigation was settled 'without compromising their journalistic integrity or ability to continue to do public interest journalism', and that reporting of the Paradise Papers was 'investigative journalism that had raised important issues'.


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