The High Court in London today lifted an interim injunction imposed on Argus and its competitor Platts preventing both news organisations from publishing details of price discounts offered in the low-grade iron ore market by Australian mining giant Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).
“The Claimants have not established, as required by s.12 of the (Human Rights Act), that they are more likely than not to obtain a permanent injunction at trial. Their application for a continuation of the interim restraining order is dismissed,” Justice Robert Miles wrote in the judgement.
“The Claimants seek an injunction restraining the Defendants until trial from publishing news stories referring to the monthly discount used by the Claimants as part of a formula for pricing sales of iron ore,” he summarized. “The Defendants are publishers of journalism and the application therefore engages Art. 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (“the ECHR”) and s.12 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (“the HRA”).”
The judge said that on the basis of these two pieces of law no interim injunction could continue to be imposed.
“In contrast to the spot market…the long-term contract market is comparatively opaque. The market intelligence and analysis produced by the Defendants assists in providing market participants with intelligence about these markets,” he said.
“There is in my view an important and weighty public interest in the provision of well-informed analysis and data by publications such as those of the Defendants about the iron ore markets. The iron ore market is of enormous economic and strategic importance, second only to the oil markets. The DMTU discount and the similar discounts given by other large producers have, for many years, been a key source of information used by the Defendants in carrying out their analysis,” the judge said.
“We are delighted with the judge’s decision,” said Adrian Binks, chairman and chief executive of Argus Media. “This is an important step forward in this case, which is actually about fundamental press freedoms.”
Argus has been publishing FMG’s discount figures since 2014 with no previous objection from FMG. FMG’s prices have also appeared widely on social media.
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