Do we now have a law of privacy?

The annual Norfolk Law Lecture takes place here at UEA on Thursday 26th November at 6.30pm, in the shiny new Thomas Paine Study Centre (so new that I don’t even have a picture of it yet, but it’s very nice). The speaker is the honourable Mr. Justice David Eady of the High Court of England & Wales, and his topic is the above question. He’s known to many of you for his decisions in the areas of libel law and the development of the law of privacy in the UK.

It’s fair to say that Eady is a somewhat controversial judge, not particularly liked by some newspaper editors, though defended by lawyers and others, and has been involved in various high-profile cases, such as that of Max Mosley (refusing an injunction that would have prevented the publication of a video in [2008] EWHC 687 (QB) and awarding £60,000 in damages for a privacy claim in [2008] EWHC 1777 (QB)), the very important Internet law case of Bunt v Tilley [2006] EWHC 407 (QB), and Ash v McKennitt [2005] EWHC 3003 (QB) on breach of confidence and privacy. As a judge, he has also presided over trials such as Jameel (which reached the House of Lords, on questions of qualified privilege and of corporate reputation as [2006] UKHL 44), and his involvement in privacy law is a long-standing one, including membership of the Calcutt Committee of nearly 20 years ago (!) that recommended changes to the UK law of privacy.

All are welcome, and there will be a report on this blog, as well as in other fine publications, no doubt…


4 thoughts on “Do we now have a law of privacy?

  1. Daithi –

    Timely, due to the European Council has approving a new data breach notification rule for EU telecos. The amendments will force telcos to tell customers if they lose their data.

    I say I have to agree with Eady J. and Tugendhat J. a Media and Privacy Law advocate (QC) is also heading in that direction.

    See: RST v UVW [2009] EWHC B24 (QB), 11 September 2009. or

    UK High Court granted an interim injunction, based on a claim to protect privacy, to prevent disclosure of information about sexual encounters for payment between the applicant (who had some public reputation) and a woman. The woman had subsequently entered into a confidentiality agreement with the applicant regarding the encounters. Tugendhat J noted that the application concerned material which might be defamatory. According to defamation law, no interlocutory injunction would be granted where a defendant was proposing to publish material which he alleged to be true (Bonnard v Perryman [1891] 2 Ch 269) (the rule).

    I have also recently had re-read Wainright v UK and Copland v UK Art 8 ECHR Act cases. Worth some consideration.

    While the Applause Store Productions Limited & Matthew Firsht v Grant Raphael [2008] EWHC 1781 (QB) – Facebook case and Blarney’s Blarney – Twitter Injunction case, don’t really effect Privacy simpliciter but do effect or encroach on the right to a good name, deceit, confidence and aspects of privacy they display problems in the media and information age.

    Bunt v Tilley has wider implications in re. Caching and Database Rights which I find most interesting as well as host defence.

    I say yes, in general terms as technology moves privacy becomes more important. One thing that annoys me slightly is the DP Acts tend to have duty of care clauses for breaches of Confidence and Privacy, but the reality is that it is practically impossible to show damage ab initio. It is only when some detriment has accrued that proceeding can flow – I think that this is wrong, on a number of levels, like a res ips argument if you like.


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