The hearing in the important media privacy case of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany is due to take place at 9.15am today in Strasbourg before a Grand Chamber of the Court of Human Rights.   We have previewed this potentially very important case and  provided a copy of the Media Lawyers Association intervention. 

In that post we mentioned further submissions for interveners.  We have now been supplied with copies of the Intervention on behalf of three further parties, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the International Press Institute and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.  These were prepared by Richard Munden of 5RB.

The two cases being heard by the Court today 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.  There is a Statement of facts (in French only).  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. There is a Statement of facts (in French only).

The submissions for these three interveners are, in summary, as follows:

  • That domestic courts have demonstrated a broad trend towards assimilationof the principles and standards relating to the protection of the right to freedom of expresssion and respect for private and family life articulated by the Court.
  • There nevertheless remain differences between the privacy regimes of contracting states.
  • A wide margin of appreciation should be affording to member states in determining the balance between such competing rights.

The submission contains a useful and interesting survey of the domestic protections of privacy and freedom of expression following the first Von Hannover case in Greece, Hungary, Itally, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Sweden.  It goes on to deal briefly with the position in New Zealand as a comparable jurisdiction.

In the section headed “Analysis” the submission deals, in particular, with the need for a “wide margin of appreciation”, concluding with the submission that

the Court should focus on the principles adopted by domestic courts in balancing Articles 8 and 10, upon which there is broad consensus among Member States, while affording a wide margin of appreciation to Council of Europe member states in determining the precise balance between such rights in individual cases, in particular only overturning decisions made in favour of the protection of freedom of expression where the balancing act performed by the domestic courts is mnaifestly wrong

This is another thoughtful intervention which should be read in full.