The important media privacy case of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany is due to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 13 October 2010. We have already previewed this potentially very important case and reported on the fact that the Media Lawyers Association (“the MLA”) had been given permission to intervene. This intervention was lodged last month. We have now been provided with a copy of the 10 page MLA Submission prepared by Heather Rogers QC.
The cases concern the publication of photographs in the media. In the first, Princess Caroline of Monaco, complains about the publication, without her consent, of photographs of her and her husband, Prince Ernst August von Hannover, and stories about her private life. In the second, the Axel Springer publishing group, which publishes Bild newspaper, complains about a ban on the publication in Germany of information about the arrest and conviction of an actor for the possession of cocaine.
The MLA was permitted to make submissions only about the applicable general principles. Its submissions are a clear and lucid summary of the media view as to the limits of Article 8. They avoid a direct attack on the recent Strasbourg decisions but, in substance, suggest that a “threshold of seriousness” must be established before Article 8 is engaged.
The MLA submits, in summary, that
(1) Article 8 does not create or require the creation of an “image right”;
(2) Publication of a person’s photograph (or image) does not, of itself, necessarily engage their Article 8 rights’ whether this is so depends upon all the circumstances; a certain level of seriouness is required before there will be any interference with the right;
(3) The right to reputation is not a Convention right. Publication of a defamatory statement about a person does not, of itself, interfere with their Article 8 rights;
(4) It is vital, in any balance between the Convention rights under Articles 8 and 10, that media reporting upon all matters of public interest or public concern is strongly protected.
(5) The reporting of court proceedings (in particular, criminal proceedings) requires wide and strong protection.
These submissions contain a helpful and interesting summary of the recent English and European case law and merit careful reading by media lawyers.
We understand the the Media Legal Defence Initiative was also given permission to intervene in the case and we hope to be able to make their submissions available to our readers as well.