Matrix Media Law Update 22 July 2010

22 07 2010

This is a weekly Media Law Update prepared by the Legal Information Team at Matrix Chambers, which they have kindly agreed to make available to readers of Inforrm.

Latest Cases

A v Chief constable of Dorset Police & Anor [2010] EWHC 1748, 16 Jul 2010. The interested party sought the court’s directions to prevent the defendant from serving the claimant with sensitive confidential documents in the course of an application for judicial review. The claimant sought declaratory relief and damages after he had been removed from a fast food outlet and detained by the police.  Held: The court saw no substance in the defendant’s suggestion that the Carnduff v Rock ([2001] 1 WLR 1786) principle should apply and that the claimant should be prevented from pursuing a judicial review application; the defendant must serve its summary grounds subject to the deletion set out in the first schedule to the first judgment. Further, the claimant and his parents ought to know why he was being protected, what he was being protected from and why that protection took the particular form it did. Read the rest of this entry »

Alastair Brett – as he leaves The Times, an appreciation

21 07 2010

The Times’ and Sunday Times’ long serving legal manager, Alastair Brett, has left the newspapers after more than 30 years. He has been a fixture on the legal media scene for as long as most practititioners can remember. We take this opportunity to recall some of the highlights of his long career at Times Newspapers Limited and his tireless contribution to the cause of press freedom.

Alastair Brett began working in the Times Newspapers’ legal department in the late 1970s shortly after qualification in a city firm of solicitors. He traded a world of dreary “time-sheets” for the joys of the in-house lawyer’s role on a newspaper. The list of Editors who benefited from his advice over three decades includes William Rees-Mogg, Harold Evans and Andrew Neil. Read the rest of this entry »

Rome II and Defamation – an online symposium from the Conflict of Laws Blog

21 07 2010

The “Rome II” Regulation (Reg. (EC) No. 864/2007) is the European Union Regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations. From 11 January 2009, the Rome II Regulation created a harmonised set of rules within the European Union to govern choice of law in civil and commercial matters (subject to certain exclusions) concerning non-contractual obligations.  However, there was no consensus over the appropriate conflict rule to deal with defamation and privacy disputes. Read the rest of this entry »

MBL/Inforrm Conference Paper: “Defamation Bill: Trivial Libels and Jurisdiction” – Hugh Tomlinson QC

20 07 2010

Lord Lester’s draft Defamation Bill contains two provisions directed towards “trivial libels” and “jurisdiction”.   There is general agreement that “trivial libels” should not be allowed to clog up the courts, although less clarity about how they should be identified and dealt with.  There is little agreement as to whether statutory intervention is needed to deal with “jurisdictional” issues.  The relevant provisions of the draft Bill are to be found in clauses 12 and 13.  Both these clauses are intended to deal with cases where there is no real harm to the claimant’s reputation in England Wales.  Unfortunately, both clauses generate more problems than they solve. Read the rest of this entry »

“Media Lawyers Intervene in Strasbourg Privacy Cases” – PA Media Lawyer

20 07 2010

This post originally appeared on Media Lawyer, the Press Association’s indispensable subscription service covering all aspects of media law.  It reproduced with permission and thanks.

A group representing in-house lawyers with national news organisations and broadcasters has been given permission to intervene in two privacy cases to be dealt with by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.  The cases – which include a fresh one brought by Princess Caroline of Monaco – moved to the Grand Chamber after the Fifth Chamber relinquished jurisdiction on them. Read the rest of this entry »

MBL/Inforrm Conference Paper: “Defamation – Common Law Development or Statutory Codification” – Desmond Browne QC

19 07 2010

Let me make clear where I stand from the start. The law of defamation is par excellence a common law tort. It has been developed by the judges over two centuries to try and strike the balance between the right to reputation and the right to free expression. Today, of course, that balance has to be struck by reference to Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention, neither of which, as we have been repeatedly reminded from London and Strasbourg, has presumptive pre-eminence. Read the rest of this entry »

Law and Media Round Up 18 July 2010

18 07 2010

In this regular feature we draw attention to the last week’s law and media news and next week’s upcoming events. If readers have any news or events which they would like to draw attention to please add them by way of comments on this post.


Libel reform continues to dominate the media law news this week.  As reported by Media Lawyer, on 13 July 2010, the Ministry of Justice published a “Structural Reform Plan”, in which the fifth “Departmental Priority” is “Civil Liberties” – “Contribute to a full programme of measures to reverse the erosion of civil liberties and to roll back state intrusion”.   Point 5.7 is “Develop options for reform of libel laws to protect freedom of speech” – this is said to start in June 2010 and to end in March 2011 with a “Draft Defamation Bill for the reform of libel laws published for pre-legislative scrutiny” being published in that month. Read the rest of this entry »

MBL/Inforrm Conference Papers: “Reynolds, Jameel, Lord Lester and Responsible Publication” – Alastair Mullis

17 07 2010

Reynolds and Jameel – the existing law

Before examining the proposals in Lord Lester’s Defamation Bill it is perhaps worth summarising shortly the existing state of the Reynolds common law defence. To rely on the defence, the defendant must show, first, that that there is a real public interest in communicating and receiving the information (Jameel v Wall Street Journal [2006] UKHL 44 [147], Baroness Hale). This is a matter of law for the judge ([49], Lord Hoffmann) and involves drawing a line between matters in which the public is legitimately interested and matters in which the public might have an interest, but which are nevertheless not matters of public interest ([147] Baroness Hale).

Read the rest of this entry »

“Interim Injunctions and the overlap between privacy and libel”, Part 2: Godwin Busuttil and Patrick McCafferty

16 07 2010

This is the concluding part of this two part post.  The first part was published on 14 July 2010

The focus of the court in Terry on the question of what the claim was ‘really’ about—misuse of private information or protection of reputation—with a view to determining which set of rules governing the grant or refusal of interim injunctive relief was applicable, appears to us to be unsatisfactory. It places a premium on specialist knowledge and clever drafting: on whether an applicant can formulate the evidence in the right way to get the desired result. It also seems to us to invite judicial idiosyncrasy—the question of which set of rules prevails being dependent upon whether the particular judge hearing the application is disposed to take the claim at face value or to look beneath the surface—and as such is a recipe for uncertainty. This does not seem desirable in the interests of justice. Read the rest of this entry »

US Freedom of Expression and Media Law Roundup 15 July 2010

16 07 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a Bill intended to stop federal courts from recognising or enforcing foreign judgments in defamation cases it assesses as being inconsistent with the First Amendment.  The “SPEECH” Act – Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act – now has to be approved by the full Senate, before moving on to the House of Representatives.  There is a report of this decision of the Committee in the Guardian and on the First Amendment Center website.   The bill appears to be largely symbolic in its effect as the Federal Courts already refuse to enforce such awards as a matter of public policy. Read the rest of this entry »