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News: MGN v United Kingdom, judgment tomorrow [updated]

At 10.00am, Strasbourg time tomorrow, 18 January 2011, the Court of Human Rights will give a written judgment on an application brought by MGN Limited against the United Kingdom.  This was lodged more than 6 years ago, on 18 October 2004  (Case No. 39401/04).  In this original application MGN Limited contested the decision of the House of Lords in Campbell v MGN ([2004] 2 AC 457) that it breached Ms Campbell’s privacy by the publication of an articles in February 2001 in which it divulged details about her drug addiction therapy. 

By further submissions (lodged in April 2006) MGN Limited complained that, following that decision, it was obliged to pay unreasonably high court legal costs on account of a “conditional fee arrangement” and, the “success fee” for which domestic law allowed.  MGN challenges the decision in Campbell v MGN (No.2) [2005] 1 WLR 3394.

The Court’s Statement of Facts and Issues posed the following question for the parties

Has there been a violation of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression, contrary to Article 10 of the Convention?

In particular:

(a) did the award of damages for breach of confidentiality due to the publication of details concerning Ms Campbell’s treatment for drug addiction, together with the impugned photographs, constitute a disproportionate interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression?

(b) did the award of costs, including the success fees, constitute a disproportionate interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression?

Although decisions of the Court of Human Rights are not directly enforceable in domestic law, a decision in favour of MGN on either issue could have a profound impact on the operation of privacy law or CFAs in publication cases.

[Update] This is the joint Intervention of the Open Justice Initiative, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Index on Censorship, English PEN, Global Witness and Human Rights Watch on the effects of CFAs on NGOs and small publications.

1 Comment

  1. Law Think

    About time that this extremely important judgment is finally given.

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