A significant and welcome judgment today from the Supreme Court in the case of Bloomberg LP (Appellant) v ZXC (Respondent) [2022] UKSC 5.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed an appeal by financial news service Bloomberg over its reporting of an investigation by an unnamed UK law enforcement body into allegations of corruption, bribery and fraud by a company in a foreign country.

It held that, in general, a person under criminal investigation has, prior to being charged, a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of information relating to that investigation. 

The judgment will have a crucial impact on individuals subject to criminal investigation as well as media reporting of the same. Once an individual is charged with a criminal offence, that is a matter of public record. The principle of open justice means that proceedings are held in public. Prior to charge, such information is generally considered to be private.

A criminal investigation can have a devastating impact on a person's private and professional reputation and after what can often be years in some cases, law enforcement agencies may decide to take no further action and not bring criminal charges.

Let's not forget that a fundamental principle behind the right to a fair trial is the presumption of innocence, unless and until, proven guilty.

The judgment can be read here.