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  2 AC 247 and Douglas v Hello! Ltd  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  QB 73 where Buxton LJ stated at :
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  2 AC 406 -.
ii) Accordingly, in developing a right to protect private information Read the rest of this entry »