The Easter Legal Term begins tomorrow and ends on 27 May 2016. This looks like being another quiet term for media lawyers with only three libel trials listed, none against media defendants. In addition, there is one media law appeal due to be heard by the Court of Appeal.
The three trials are as follows: 5 April 2016, Umeyor v Ibe, 5 days; 18 April 2016, Undre v London Borough of Harrow, 2 days.; 23 May 2016, Theedom v Nourish Training, 3-4 days. The appeal in the case of Simpson v Mirror Group is floating on 24 and 25 May 2016. The Court of Appeal will hear a renewed application for permission to appeal in the case of Harvey v News Group on 12 April 2016. Please let us know if there are any trials or appeals that we should add
In our last Round Up we drew attention to the verdict in Hulk Hogan case against Gawker. The full trial can be viewed on the Court Chatter Channel on You Tube – there are 51 separate videos to view, from the opening statements to the verdict on punitive damages.
We have already reported that shortly before the end of the last legal term, on 22 and 23 March 2016, the Supreme Court refused permission to appeal in the Mirror Phone Hacking Case and in the Weller children paparazzi photographs case. Writing in “Hold the Front Page”, Jo Vale asks of the Mirror decision: “Does hacking case signal more privacy claims?”
The Law Commission is consulting on changing the common law offence of Misconduct in Public Office, in the wake of Operation Elveden, after 32 public officials were convicted after selling information to journalists. Ciara Bottomley of Public Concern at Work has argued that the law was used to persecute whistleblowers and should be abolished.
The Norton Rose Fulbright Social Media Law blog examines the individuals who become internet sensations through the use of social media. It discusses the difficulties of establishing defamation claims due to the higher evidentiary burden on “public figures”. Unlike non-public figures, those with public figure status must establish that a defendant acted with actual malice in making false statements.
The Himsworths Legal Blog discusses educating footballers on the risks involved in using social media after the sentencing of Adam Johnson.
Screenshotting Snapchats is unlikely to be illegal, according to media law barrister Christina Michalos. Her comments will come as a relief to many, after Ed Vaizey announced that the practice would constitute copyright infringement.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has confirmed Elizabeth Denham as the Government’s preferred candidate to become the UK’s next Information Commissioner, describing her as an “inspired choice”.
In the meanwhile, the outgoing Commissioner has made a number of statements about fair processing notices, which are to change in length with the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation. He noted that when Articles 14 and 14A of the GDPR came into force, he was expecting privacy policies of more than 5,000 words to become the norm and suggested that the next version of the “Privacy Notices Code of Practice” (which covers the GDPR) could be entitled “The Anti-Privacy Notices Code of Practice”.
The Turkish Parliament has adopted the Law on Personal Data Protection after nine years of efforts. The Law is Turkey’s first specific privacy and data protection legislation and its adoption follows Turkey’s recent ratification of Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data.
Surveillance and Information Gathering
Paul Bernal’s blog discusses the Commons debate over the Investigatory Powers Bill. He argues that the wrong questions are being asked and that the focus on Internet Connection Records is misguided.
The Open Rights Group also discusses the Bill, arguing that the proposed “filter” is the most concerning aspect of the Bill and is not being given enough attention.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Last week was the legal vacation and there were no statements in open court.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
IPSO has ruled that The Sun article claiming that about “1 in 5” British Muslims were IS sympathisers was indeed “significantly misleading”. The Sun conflated “sympathy” for people going to fight in Syria and “support” for jihadis, when neither the question nor the answers which referred to “sympathy” made reference to IS. The paper was ordered to publish a critical adjudication no further back than page five. We had a post about the decision by Brian Cathcart.
The Thanet Extra has been censured by IPSO after it reported that a naked drink driver convicted of outraging public decency had also been pleasuring himself. The paper had already published a clarification. IPSO ordered it to republish this on page three, which was where the original article appeared.
The Hoot discusses misusing anonymous sources at The New York Times, who have just updated their rules on granting anonymity after two major anonymous source stories blew up in the paper’s face last year.
The British Journalism Review discusses the demise of The Independent here, suggesting that it is impressive that the newspaper survived as long as it did.
IMPRESS discusses community news journalists here, arguing that not much is widely known about this new generation of players in the UK’s local news ecosystems
Last week in the Courts
Last week was the legal “vacation” and there were no media law cases heard by the English courts.
We note, however, that two applications for permission to appeal in media law cases have been lodged:
Please let us know if there are any events you would like to be included on this list by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Primary Health Care chief executive Peter Gregg is suing Fairfax Media for defamation after reports linking him to corruption in the oil industry. Gregg asserted that “he has not breached any civil or criminal law, whether in Australia or elsewhere”.
An 80 year old man has successfully sought a constitutional exemption, allowing him to access physician assisted-suicide. The case raised the competing values of privacy and the open court principle, which is discussed here.
The Green Building Law Update discusses the defamation case against Greenpeace here. It is anticipated that the Canadian court will soon rule on the matter appealed which could set in motion “a comprehensive review of the activities of Greenpeace world-wide over a period of forty years.”
For the first time in assisted-death cases, Canadian judges have refused to bar the media and other members of the public from the hearings. Chief Justice Hinkson said assisted-death hearings are “uniquely significant” and granting the request would harm the “open court principle”.
Employers should be wary of using intrusive technologies if they suspect employee misuse of enterprise devices or data, two lawyers have told a privacy law conference.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara have filed a libel suit in Tel Aviv against a journalist after he published a Facebook post. The post accused Netanyahu’s wife of throwing the prime minister of of a car.
The Nationalist Party have denounced a decision by the police to follow up on a criminal defamation complaint against MP Jason Azzopardi, filed against him by Peter Paul Zammit, the former police commissioner turned lawyer. European People’s Party (EPP) parliamentary group chairman Manfred Weber has criticised the government over the charges.
The secret trial of Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül has begun, despite growing internal and international criticism. There is a post about the trial on the CPBF website. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s representative on media freedom, Dunja Mijatović – has called for the prosecution to be dropped.
A federal judge has cut more than US$12 million from damages awarded to an intern who sued a chief executive for sexual harassment and defamation. Hanna Bouveng, 26, was told to ‘take it or leave it’ by Judge Paul Gardephe or face a new trial. She must now accept $5.65million in total damages, down from last summer’s award of $16million for punitive damages and $2million in compensation.
The Federal Judicial Center have announced that it will not recommend any changes to the policy that video cameras are banned from most federal courtrooms, despite a survey concluding that the majority of judges and lawyers agreed that the positive impact of the cameras outweighed the negative.
California’s attorney general has announced that a Wells Fargo & Co unit will pay $8.5 million to California and five counties to settle charges that it violated customers’ privacy. The unit did not disclose in a timely fashion that it was recording their calls.
Research and Resources
- Should we worry about filter bubbles?, Internet Policy Review
- Ms Lods’ Law+tech news round up, 22 March 2016
- Legal Cases on Posthumous Reputation and Posthumous Privacy: History Censorship, Law, Politics and Culture Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce 42.1 (2014):40-122, Bo Zhao, University of Groningen.
- Preface: Privacy Revisited: A Global Perspective on the Right to Be Left Alone, Privacy Revisited: A Global Perspective on the Right to Be Left Alone (Oxford University Press 2016), U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2754664, Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr, University of Alabama – School of Law.
- Profiling the European Citizen in the Internet of Things: How Will the General Data Protection Regulation Apply to this Form of Personal Data Processing, and How Should It?, Sarah Johanna Eskens, University of Amsterdam, Institute for Information Law (IViR).
- Privacy Concerns in the Domain Name System, Samantha Bradshaw and Laura DeNardis, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Yale University – Yale Information Society Project.
- Love, Story, Law – From the Scarlet Letter to Freedom and Privacy, Law and Literature Vol 28(2), 2016, Nili Cohen Tel-Aviv University
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday and Tuesday 4 and 5 April 2016, the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland will hear the appeal in the case of CG v Facebook Ireland. We had a case preview by Aidan Wills.
On Thursday or Friday 7 or 8 April 2016, there will be an application in the case of Various Claimants v MGN before Mann J concerning CFAs and Article 10.
The following reserved judgment in a media law case is outstanding:
Axon v Ministry of Defence, heard 1, 2 and 4 March 2016 (Nicol J)
This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher. She tweets@tessadevans