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Judgment embargo has been breached the latest by a dating service

On its defeat in a trademark case, a Muslim dating service has become the latest litigant to reveal the result of a draft judgment before it is handed down by sending an embargoed press release to journalists.

Muzmatch’s founder has received a rebuke from the courts for breaching embargoes on draft judgments in recent months, with lawyers representing the Duke of Sussex, Swiss bank Banque Pictet and the Welsh government’s law officer.

It was found last month that an infringed trademark was held by Match Group, by the online matchmaking service for Muslims, the company behind dating app Tinder. Muzmatch’s founder Shahzad Younas offered to provide an embargoed press release revealing that his company had lost its ‘fight with Match Group to keep its name’ to 10 journalists, before the day when ruling was handed down and then sent the press release to ‘various journalists who had agreed to respect the embargo’ he had imposed. Nicholas Caddick QC, sitting as a High Court judge, said in a ruling today that Younas also had email exchanges and phone conversations on this.

Caddick also added that, Younas on a witness statement, said he ‘wholeheartedly apologizes to the court’ and explained that he ‘honestly believed that he could communicate the outcome of the case and share a press release with journalists provided it was done on a strictly confidential basis’.

The judge found Younas had committed a ‘serious breach of the embargo’ but accepted that it was ‘a genuine mistake’, saying it is ‘appropriate to accept Mr Younas’ apology as resolving the matter’ and also noted that Match does not intend to initiate formal contempt proceedings. He also added that, he does not see the need for the court to do so of its own initiative whether to punish Mr Younas for his past actions or to educate other litigants as to the very serious nature of the embargo.

With indicating his preliminary view that ‘it may well be appropriate’ to order costs on an indemnity basis, the judge will determine Match’s application for its costs of dealing with the issue of the embargo breach at a hearing later this month.

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