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'Self-incriminators' may be forced to tell the court what they know

High Court extends ability to strip people of right not to self-incriminate

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The High Court agreed, ruling that there is no fixed definition of "intellectual property" and that the law should not be defined too narrowly.

Lawyers for Mulcaire argued that the House of Lords ruling on whether Hello! magazine could protect photos of a celebrity wedding made it clear that confidential information was not a form of intellectual property. They said that this meant that Mulcaire should not be bound by the exception to PSI.

Mr Justice Vos agreed that the Hello case meant that confidential information was not necessarily intellectual property, but said that to take the exception to PSI to be valid only in intellectual property cases was too restrictive an interpretation.

"I do not accept [Mulcaire's lawyers'] suggested limitation on the meaning of 'technical or commercial information'," he said. "If the information needed also to be a species of intellectual property, it would be very narrow indeed, and there is no limitation of that kind implied from the words of the legislation. Rather, I take the view that the 'technical or commercial information' with which [the exception] is concerned is any such information that can be protected as such by action."

"A review of intellectual property textbooks shows that there is no universal definition of the term [intellectual property], which is no doubt why Parliament has adopted a variety of definitions for differing situations," said the judge.

"Parliament must be taken to have been deliberately expanding the meaning of 'intellectual property' when it included the words 'technical and commercial information' in the string of meanings alongside patent, trade mark, copyright, and registered design (and the later added 'design rights' in 1988)," said the ruling.

Mulcaire cannot now refuse to answer questions or provide information in the case, and must also provide information about other alleged victims of phone hacking whose identities had been blacked out in documents provided to the Court, the High Court said.

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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