"11 plus" one injunction equals success for County Council in Exam leak case

Warwickshire County Council has successfully obtained an injunction in the High Court against the owner of a website which published details of 11 plus exam topics and questions while students continued to sit the exam on a rolling examination programme.

Warwickshire County Council has successfully obtained an injunction in the High Court against the owner of a website which published the details of 11 plus exam topics and questions while students continued to sit the exam on a rolling examination programme.

Mr Matalia had obtained the information about the information about the content of the paper through his nephew, who sat the exam. The nephew also sat exams in Walsall, Stratford and Hertfordshire. Mr Matalia’s website also included specific details about the content of the Walsall exam, and advised "a mock paper with a similar format is available from the shop."

On Wednesday 11 September 2013, the County Council made a without notice application to the High Court for injunctive relief against Mr Matalia. An order was made which required Mr Matalia to remove information posted on the CEM 11 Plus website.

Although the County Council attempted to serve the papers on Mr Matalia on the evening of 11 September 2013, he was not at home. A copy of the order was posted through his letter box the following morning. Personal service did not take place until Friday 13 September 2013. By this point, Mr Matalia had removed the relevant information from the website.

Mr Matalia emailed the County Council on 13 September 2015 to inquire whether the council would be open to an "amicable agreement" under which he would "not publish an overview of the test content until the test is no longer used" and the Council would "agree to investigate the merits of holding the test on the same day as Birmingham, increasing the numbers sitting the test late and how tuition centres recreate questions from the first sitting and pass them on to child sitting the test late". The Council replied that it would accept full payment of its costs and agreement from Mr Matalia that the information would not be disclosed at any point.

When the County Council refused to permit Mr Matalia to publish past papers, and advised that it would be seeking a cost order against him for the injunctive proceedings, Mr Matalia implied that further information was soon to be released and replied "I expect to win the case and recover costs. In any case, it is financially advantageous for me to go to trial and the publicity and media details will be invaluable for my sites. There is now no reason for me to settle."

Facing a claim for breach of confidence, Mr Matalia defended his actions citing a public interest argument, which was swiftly dismissed by Mr Justice Newey. Mr Matalia was ordered to remove the offending material and not to publish any subsequent exam details because the publication amounted to a breach of confidence. Candidates do not all sit exams on the same day, and the exam paper in question is still being used.

No doubt the County Council was pleased to plug this leak before the flood gates were opened!

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