For this Kat, it feels just like another day, another privacy issue before the Courts. Yesterday Max Mosley's solicitors, Collyer Bristow, announced that Mr Mosley has made a request under Article 43 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Rule 73 of the Rules of the Court for his case to be referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. As will be recalled, last month the Fourth Chamber refused to his arguments that the UK government was obligated to implement a pre-notification requirement in privacy cases. See this Kat's earlier post here.
In written submissions, the esteemed Lord Pannick (at ) on behalf of Mr Mosley contends that a serious issue of general importance is whether the Grand Chamber should accept that:
'in cases where a newspaper, or other publisher, intends to disclose “intimate or sexual details of private life” (the phrase used by the Fourth Section at paragraph 125) the newspaper or other publisher should be required to give advance notice of the publication so that the individual concerned can seek an injunction from the court to prevent publication in breach of Article 8'.One of the difficulties faced by Mr Mosley before the Fourth Chamber was its concern that he was not limiting the pre-notification requirement to 'intimate or sexual details of private life' (at ) and that accordingly a general obligation to give advance notification might inhibit investigative journalism. Lord Pannick confirms (at ) that Mr Mosley is 'entirely content to confirm that his argument is limited to such cases'.
Pre-notfication in such cases was an issue of very considerable general importance in the UK, as
'certain sections of the press, such as The News of the World, trade in the disclosure of intimate or sexual secrets of people's private lives' (at ).In its press release, Collyer Bristow states that:
'Privacy has been the subject of considerable public and media debate in the last month and a ruling from the Grand Chamber of the Court is needed upon this important issue to close a clear gap in UK law'.The next stage is for the request to be examined by five judges of the Grand Chamber, a process which can take up to 6 months.
The IPKat admires Mr Mosley for following through with his harsh criticism of the decision of the Fourth Chamber. However, he is not so sure that a limitation of the pre-notification obligation to sexual cases will be enough to secure the result which Mr Mosley so badly wants.
Merpel is not one for waiting, but she notes that the decision could be a very good or a very bad Christmas present for Mr Mosley.