29 December 2023


In Wolverhampton CC v London Gypsies and Travellers, the Supreme Court considered whether the court has the power to grant "newcomer injunctions", i.e. injunctions against persons who are unknown and unidentified as at the date of the order, and who have not yet performed, or threatened to perform, the acts which the injunction prohibits? If so, on what basis and subject to what safeguards?

What is a newcomer?

they are made against persons who are truly unknowable at the time of the grant, rather than […] identifiable persons whose names are not known. They therefore apply potentially to anyone in the world.”

When will a newcomer injunction be granted and what safeguards will apply?

  • If there is a compelling need, backed up by evidence, for the protection of civil rights which is not adequately met by any other measures;
  • There is procedural protection for any rights of newcomers including an obligation to take reasonable steps to draw the application and order to their attention and liberty to apply to have any injunction varied or set aside;
  • Applicants must disclose any correspondence with newcomers in which they oppose the grant of an injunction;
  • The injunctions are tailored in both geographical extent and duration; and
  • It must otherwise be just and convenient to grant the injunction in all of the circumstances.

Application in IP cases and unlawful acts related to social media

This development will be welcomed by brand owners. Much the same as ISP blocking injunctions (see our article from 2014 here), newcomer injunctions have the potential to be significant in the context of breaches of intellectual property rights and unlawful acts related to social media, particularly where wrongdoers can hide behind a veil of anonymity. Newcomer injunctions have been created to fill a lacuna where no other sanction is available e.g. where proceeding against the wrongdoer(s) is impracticable or would be ineffective. However, it remains to be seen how widely this new type of injunction will be applied given that they will only be justified in limited circumstances.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Holly Webb or Emily Roberts or your usual IP team contact.

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Key contact

Emily Roberts

Emily Roberts Partner

  • Intellectual Property and Media
  • Intellectual Property Disputes
  • Intellectual Property Portfolio Protection

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