AMM v News Group Newspapers – High Court decision in UK for privacy injunction

December 10, 2014

After a surge in their use, followed by some criticism, the use of injunctions in the privacy/misuse of private information proceedings in the United Kingdom has been quite restrained in the last few years.  That such an order is available to the court is demonstrated in the recent decision of AMM v News Group Newspapers [2014] EWHC 4063 (QB) where the Court, per Stewart J, granted an injunction restraining News Group Newspaper from publishing private information.

FACTS

The Defendant is the publisher of the Sun on Sunday. The application for an injunction sought Read the rest of this entry »

Prest v Petrodel Resources 2013] UKSC 34: UK Supreme Court, Company Law, piercing the corporate veil.

June 18, 2013

In Prest v Petrodel Resources 2013] UKSC 34 the UK Supreme Court considered when it was appropriate to pierce the corporate veil of companies. It is a very significant decision which may be influential in Australia.

 FACTS

The appeal relates to ancillary relief sought by the respondent following divorce proceedings.  The Appellant, the wife, sought recovery under the Matrimonial Causes Act or orders which would permit the court to pierce the corporate veil of a number of companies which were wholly owned and controlled by the the husband.  At first instance the trial judge found there was no general principle which entitled him to reach the companies assets by piercing the corporate veil [6].  The wife was unsuccessful on appeal to the Court of Appeal.

DECISION

The wife was successful on the basis, the court found, that the husband, and not the companies, had originally provided the funds for the properties in dispute to be bought.  Trust law principles were applied and the court found that the companies held the properties in trust for him.  As he was ‘entitled’ to them the court could transfer them to the wife.

While the Appellant was unsuccessful in her appeal seeking order to pierce the corporate veil  the judgment was most significant in its consideration of the principle as to when the corporate veil may be pierced and the limitations on the doctrine.

LORD SUMPTION

His Lordship commenced his analysis by discussing what piercing the corporate veil actually means and, critically, what it doesn’t mean. As to its meaning he said “..properly speaking, it means disregarding the separate personality of the company…” where “.. a person who owns and controls a company is said in certain circumstances to be identified with it in law by virtue of that ownership and control [16].” he drew a distinction between those circumstances and where the law attributes the acts or property of the company to those who control including:

  1. where the controller Read the rest of this entry »

Privacy issues involving pictures of Kate Middleton & litigation that has followed

September 15, 2012

A French magazine, Closer, has brought the issue of privacy to prominence with its purchase and publication of  photographs of a topless Kate Middleton by a swimming pool while on a private holiday in Provence. The story is found here.  The Guardian reports that the Royal couple are to sue publication for an invasion of privacy.  As does the ABC and the Age.  The action will be under French civil law which has a far stronger privacy protections to those in the UK and other common law countries.

In the United Kingdom the tort of misuse of private information has developed rapidly to protect private information.  It’s genesis in the modern era is the House of Lords decisions of  Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] 2 AC 247 and Douglas v Hello! Ltd [2008] 1 AC 1. The basis of those proceedings was a claim for breach of confidence (described as a misuse of private information).  Since Campbell “privacy” actions have developed to involve a more systematic application of the Articles 8 and 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 as well as consideration of equitable breach of confidence principles.  The current state of the law is best summarised in McKennitt v Ash [2008] QB 73 where  Buxton LJ stated at [8]:

i) There is no English domestic law tort of invasion of privacy. Previous suggestions in a contrary sense were dismissed by Lord Hoffmann, whose speech was agreed with in full by Lord Hope of Craighead and Lord Hutton, in Wainwright v Home Office [2004] 2 AC 406 [28]-[35].

ii) Accordingly, in developing a right to protect private information Read the rest of this entry »

Sir Elton John v Guardian News & Media Limited – Queensbench Division – defamation

December 14, 2008

Sir Elton John is not famous for his sense of humour. There is a steady stream of you tube videos evidencing that. Little wonder that he commenced proceedings against the Guardian Newspaper. His claim has hit an early bump in the litigation road. Guardian had significant success in striking out Sir Elton’s claim. Guardian pleaded fair comment. It is a useful decision dealing with an application to strike out imputations.

The article

The article in a weekend piece was: Read the rest of this entry »