Julie Gayet v Closer: French privacy case – successful claim by plaintiff

March 29, 2014 |

Privacy law of civil jurisdictions, such as Germany and France, are quite separate and distinct from their common law cousins, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and United Kingdom.  The US and New Zealand has a stand alone privacy tort, Canada is moving in that direction and the UK’s case law still pays lip service to equitable underpinnings in its misuse of private information actions but is becoming ever so much a tort in all but name.  But the defences and the weighing exercise in the common law stand in stark contrast to the considerations in civil code countries. And France has very strong privacy protections.

The Guardian has reported, French court orders Closer to pay Julie Gayet €15K in damages, that a French Court has ordered the gossip magazine to pay Julie Gayet  €15,000  in damages for breach of privacy.  Ms Gayet was the object of affection, or at least visitations, of the French President Francois Hollande.  The Closer photographed Hollande arriving at Gayet’s abode on the back of a scooter with croissants (and a bodyguard) in toe.  The coverage caused a rift then split in Hollande’s domestic relationship with his then de facto partner, Valerie Trieweller.  Hollande took no action.

The decision (is found here in French).

The article provides:

A French court has ordered the gossip magazine Closer to pay €15,000 (£12,000) in damages to the actor Julie Gayet for breaching her privacy after it published photos apparently exposing her relationship with the president, François Hollande.

The sum fell short of the €50,000 Gayet, 41, sought when she filed the suit shortly after Closer published photos of Hollande, 59, arriving on the back of a scooter to meet her in a Paris apartment.

The court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre also ordered the magazine to publish the full ruling on its front page.

Hollande split with long-time partner Valérie Trierweiler, 49, following the scandal but has refused to comment further on his private life or the nature of his relationship with Gayet.

During court hearings, Gayet’s lawyer, Jean Ennochi, said the actor had been “hunted” by the press. He said: “She was assaulted by swarms of photographers … it was like the hunt of a wild animal.”

Ennochi refused to comment further on Thursday.

Closer’s lawyer, Delphine Pando, told the court the magazine was justified in publishing the photographs. She said they were in the public interest because they raised questions about presidential security and Hollande’s “duty of transparency”.

As well as the civil suit, Gayet has filed two other criminal complaints: one for breach of privacy over separate photos published by Closer of her taken inside a car, which under French law qualifies as a private space; and another accusing paparazzi of “endangering others” by allegedly hounding her.

Gayet, a mother of two who has acted in more than 70 films over a 20-year career, has kept a low profile since the story broke. During a rare public appearance in New York this month she fended off questions about her relationship with Hollande, telling a reporter: “My private life is my private life.”

The story is covered by the Independent (here) and Reuters (here).

The Inforrm Blog has done an excellent analysis of the legal issues (here)).

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