"Paradise Papers" Law Firm, UK Media Houses Settle Legal Tussle

Josh O'Neill Assistant Editor 9 May 2018

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Appleby, the offshore law firm whose practices came under fire following last year’s “Paradise Papers” exposé, has settled “differences” with the UK’s BBC and Guardian over breach of confidence claims.

Appleby said the proceedings were filed to help it “understand which of its confidential and privileged documents had been taken” and shared with global media outlets last November in a scandal that compared to the 2016 “Panama Papers” leak.

The firm said “it is now clear that the vast majority of documents” that were of interest in investigations related to a fiduciary business that is no longer owned by Appleby “and so were not legally privileged documents”.

Michael O’Connell, group managing partner of Appleby, said: “From the outset we wanted to be able to explain to our clients and colleagues what information of theirs had been stolen. That was our duty. As a result of this legal action we are well on our way to achieving our objectives.”

Last December, this publication reported that Appleby was taking legal action against the BBC and Guardian over their reporting of “leaked” documents that shone a light on how some of the world’s wealthy individuals and companies use offshore legal structures to obtain tax breaks. 

The Bermuda-based law firm said it would sue for breach of confidence with the aim of having the package containing millions of documents disclosed. 

At the time, the BBC and Guardian both said they would “vigorously” defend their actions, as the documents were shared in the “highest public interest”.

A spokesperson for the Guardian said: “The Guardian's reporting from the Paradise Papers is investigative journalism that has raised important issues in the public interest.”

A spokesperson for the BBC said: "We welcome this settlement which preserves our ability to carry out investigative journalism in the public interest."

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