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

Latest Cases

Brady v Norman [2011] EWCA Civ 107,  9 Feb 2011.  The claimant appealed against a refusal to disapply the 12-month limitation period applicable to his defamation claim. The Court was asked to consider whether master’s decision refusing application was in conflict with authority on the equivalent time limit in personal injury claims. Held: the master and the judge below had been entitled to find that the claimant had not made out a case for disapplication of the normal limitation rule under the Limitation Act 1980, s 32A. Defamation considerations were very different from those in personal injury cases; the defamatory impact of libel or slander was likely to be transient and Parliament clearly intended the shorter limitation period to reflect the need for a claimant to assert and pursue his need for vindication speedily.  There is a WLR summary of the case.

Donaldson v UK (App No. 56975/09). ECtHR – 7 Feb 2011. Admissibility Decision – ban on inmates wearing Easter lilies in Northern Irish prisons is legitimate – ECHR, art 10. For ECtHR press release, see here. There is an Inforrm Blog case note.

Wallis & GHP Securities Ltd v Justin Meredith [2011] EWHC 75 (QB) – 28 Jan 2011. If an employee sends a letter alleging unlawful conduct by the employer to the employer’s own solicitor, this does not amount to a real and substantial act of defamation. Clarke J observed that solicitors routinely receive publications about their own clients which are defamatory. However such publications are likely to be covered by qualified privilege or perhaps absolute privilege, both of which provide a defence to an action for defamation.

Latest Regulatory Decisions

Latest decisions of the Scottish Information Commissioner:

Latest Decision Notices from the Information Commissioner’s Office:

Latest decisions of the First-tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber [Information Rights]

  • Peter Dun v IC EA/2010/0060: FOI Act 2000, s 40 (personal data). Please download:


Michael McCann MP v East Kilbride News. Press Complaints Commission Decision – 2 Feb 2011.  Complaints alleging breach of clause 1 (accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

Sarah Baskerville v Daily Mail. Press Complaints Commission Decision – 8 Feb 2011.  Complaint alleging breach of clauses 1 (accuracy) and 3 (privacy) of the Code of Practice.

Sarah Baskerville v Independent on Sunday. Press Complaints Commission Decision – 8 Feb 2011.  Complaint alleging breach of clauses 1 (accuracy) and 3 (privacy) of the Code of Practice.

There is an Inforrm Blog post on the Baskerville adjudications.

Recent Developments

Balen Report hearing rescheduled, – 9 Feb 2011. Sugar v BBC & Anor (on appeal from [2010] EWCA Civ 715), which was due to be heard on the 9th and 10th February, has been withdrawn from the list of hearings and relisted for November due to the death of the claimant, Steven Sugar.  There is a BBC Open Secrets blog post on the case.

A Consultation on the Use of Live, Text‐Based Forms of Communications from Court for the Purposes of Fair and Accurate Reporting, Lord Chief Justice, Consultation – 7 Feb 2011. A full consultation regarding the use of live, text‐based communications from court. This paper sets out the considerations taken into account when the Interim Guidance was framed, and outlines issues which need to be considered before a final policy is determined.

Phone hacking: PCC ‘was not fully informed during investigation’, John Plunkett, The Guardian – 2 Feb 2011, Notes that the chair of the PCC, Baroness Peta Buscombe, admitted that the regulator appeared not to have been fully informed when it carried out its criticised 2009 investigation into claims of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Articles and Discussion

Alphabetti spaghetti, Rod Dadak (Lewis Silkin LLP), Solicitors Journal S.J. (2011) Vol.155 No.5 pgs.8-9.  Comments on the CoA ruling in JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd, highlighting the balancing exercise to be undertaken between the celebrity sportsperson’s rights under ECHR, art 8 and the rights of the press under art 10.

Suing anon – a rare privilege, Barbara Hewson (Hardwicke Chambers), Solicitors Journal S.J. (2011) Vol.155 No.5 pg.9, Reports on the CoA ruling in JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd, detailing the implications of the various options open to the Court.

The Privacy Injunction Fights Back, Duncan Lamont, Charles Russell Legal Update, 3 February 2011.  Discusses the decision of the CoA in JIH v News Group.

The News of the World Phone Hacking Scandal: have you been affected?, Nick Armstrong, Charless Russell Legal Update, 31 January 2011.  Discusses the following issues: What’s it all about?  Has anyone successfully sued? Why are the police involved?  How many more victims are there? What are the penalties for breaking the law in this way?What should I do if I think I have been a victim?

Assessing the first ICO fines, Richard Cumbley (Linklaters LLP), Privacy Laws & Business United Kingdom Newsletter P.L. & B.U.K.N. (2011) No.53 February pgs.1,3-4. Examines the first fines issued by the ICO for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

FOIA extended to more bodies, James Michael, Privacy Laws & Business United Kingdom Newsletter P.L. & B.U.K.N. (2011) No.53 February pg.11. Reports on the Government announcement that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is to be extended to include more regulatory bodies and companies owned by more than one public authority, and that government records will now be released after 20 years rather than 30 years. Notes the plans to increase the independence of the Information Commissioner and to widen the disclosure exemptions applicable to Royal Family communications.

ICO: Post-legislative scrutiny for new laws impacting on privacy? Laura Linkomies, Privacy Laws & Business United Kingdom Newsletter P.L. & B.U.K.N. (2011) No.53 February pgs.20-21, Examines the findings of a report on surveillance developments by the Surveillance Studies Network, updated since its first Report on the Surveillance Society published in 2006.

Rights of confidence: confidentially speaking – trade secrets law on the march. Jonathan Cornthwaite (Wedlake Bell LLP). Corporate Briefing Corp. Brief. (2011) February pgs.4-6. Reviews case law illustrating the extent of the protection available for trade secrets.