Details of the alleged dealings of Appleby, which has a substantial presence in Jersey, were published last November following a leak of 13.4 million documents. In the UK, the reporting was led by the Guardian and the BBC, which are part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Confidential deals were detailed in extensive media reports, including US tech giant Apple’s alleged use of Jersey-managed companies on the advice of Appleby, as part of its tax-planning arrangements.
Other jurisdictions which have come under scrutiny include the Isle of Man, where racing driver Lewis Hamilton allegedly avoided millions of pounds of tax by registering a private jet.
Appleby have maintained that the documents were illegally hacked from their files and have since initiated legal proceedings against the BBC and the Guardian, who they claim have not co-operated with information requests they have made.
The firm issued a claim for breach of confidence on 4 December, as well as an application for disclosure and information. Appleby says that it needs to know what documents were taken from its files so it can advise its clients.
According to reports in the national media, the firm has also hired Hugh Tomlinson QC to assist them in taking out an injunction to prevent any further data from their files being released.
Mr Tomlinson is the chairman of Hacked Off, a campaign group for ‘free and accountable’ media, which has advised the House of Lords on amendments to the data protection laws.
He specialises in media and information law and was involved in the campaign for full disclosure of MPs’ parliamentary expenses and the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
He has acted for and against the media in the past and has also worked on privacy cases for celebrities including Lily Allen, David and Victoria Beckham,
Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and Ryan Giggs.
Earlier this month peers backed an amendment from Baroness Hollins calling for the government to begin an inquiry into data protection breaches by the news media. She said that Hacked Off had provided advice on her amendments.
A full statement from Appleby explaining its reasons for suing the BBC and Guardian can be found on its website at applebyglobal.com. Appleby have requested that their 317-word statement on the matter is only used in articles if it is published in full and wish to make no further comment on the matter.