For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

House of Lords say OK to OK!

Hot off the press, the ruling of the House of Lords in the case of Douglas v Hello! and others has resulted in a split (some might say fractured) decision. The Douglases and OK! have won on the issue of breach of confidence, with Lord Hoffmann taking the majority 3:2 view on the issue, restoring the earlier High Court judgment, saying:

"In my opinion Lindsay J was right. The point of which one should never lose sight is that OK! had paid £1m for the benefit of the obligation of confidence imposed upon all those present at the wedding in respect of any photographs of the wedding. That was quite clear. Unless there is some conceptual or policy reason why they should not have the benefit of that obligation, I cannot see why they were not entitled to enforce it. And in my opinion there are no such reasons. Provided that one keeps one's eye firmly on the money and why it was paid, the case is, as Lindsay J held, quite straightforward

It is first necessary to avoid being distracted by the concepts of privacy and personal information. In recent years, English law has adapted the action for breach of confidence to provide a remedy for the unauthorized disclosure of personal information: see Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] 2 AC 457. This development has been mediated by the analogy of the right to privacy conferred by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and has required a balancing of that right against the right to freedom of expression conferred by article 10. But this appeal is not concerned with the protection of privacy. Whatever may have been the position of the Douglases, who, as I mentioned, recovered damages for an invasion of their privacy, OK!'s claim is to protect commercially confidential information and nothing more. So your Lordships need not be concerned with Convention rights. OK! has no claim to privacy under article 8 nor can it make a claim which is parasitic upon the Douglases' right to privacy. The fact that the information happens to have been about the personal life of the Douglases is irrelevant. It could have been information about anything that a newspaper was willing to pay for. What matters is that the Douglases, by the way they arranged their wedding, were in a position to impose an obligation of confidence. They were in control of the information".
There is far too much else in the decision, which amounts to 330 paragraphs, to go into any further detail at present. The IPKat may, however, be providing a more considered opinion on the ruling in due course.

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