On 13 and 14 November 2019 the Supreme Court (Lords Kerr, Wilson, Sumption, Hodge and Briggs) will hear the appeal in the most important defamation case if the year – Lachaux v Independent Print. The Court will consider the meaning of “serious harm” under section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013.
The appeal is against the decision ( EWCA Civ 1334) of the Court of Appeal (MacFarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ) against the decision of Warby J on preliminary issues ( EWHC 2242 (QB)). The Grounds of Appeal can be found here [pdf]. The Medial Lawyers Association have been given leave to intervene by way of written submissions. We had a case preview from Mathilde Groppo last week. The case can be watched live on the Supreme Court’s website.
On Wednesday 7 November 2018 DMCS Committee held another evidence session in its ongoing investigation into tackling fake news. The oral evidence which was given can be found here [pdf].
The Press Gazette has a summary of the evidence given by Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham which includes calls for the implementation of an internet-oriented regulatory framework.
The ICO has also published an interim report “Democracy Disrupted” charting its ongoing investigation into Facebook’s connections with Cambridge Analytica.
Following Lord Hain’s recent circumvention of an interim injunction using parliamentary privilege the issue has become topical. On Thursday 8 November 2018 House of Commons Speaker John Bercow invoked parliamentary privilege, pursuant to section.34(3) of the Freedom of Information Act, to block a journalists request for information in relation to allegations of bullying against MP Keith Vaz. The Press Gazette reports.
The ongoing Grenfell Inquiry has had a request for a restriction on reporting denied. The request came due to concerns that the ongoing trial against Hanan Wahabi for fraud could be prejudiced by any evidence he gave before the Inquiry being made public.
Following an interview of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Founder of the English Defence League, on Sky News Ofcom has received over 3,000 complaints of bias and inaccuracy however will not investigate the broadcast, the Press Gazette reports.
Internet and Social Media
Following recent changes to the composition of Congress in the US mid-term elections the Washington Post has noted that social media companies face an increasingly heated battle over new privacy laws. The Verge has analysed how internet usage influenced the elections.
The Times of India has analysed development of China’s implementation of its own internet infrastructure, how it rivals the US model and the implications.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The LSE Media Policy Project has considered the issue of child capacity in the context of privacy and data protection.
Mischon de Reya’s Blog has covered the case of Lonsdale v National Westminster Bank Plc  EWHC 1843 (QB). The case highlighted how, pursuant to the Data Protection Act 1998, a subject access request to a Bank requesting the reasons for freezing and closing an account can be provided.
Following a series of data breaches throughout 2016-2017, which compromised the accounts of over 3 billion users, Yahoo has established a $50m settlement fund and credit monitoring, the Hunton Andrews Kurth Privacy Blog has coverage.
Public interest group Privacy International (PI) has been increasingly active. PI has provided guidance for individuals to enable them to more easily control how companies utilize their data. As part of the campaign PI has filed complaints against Acxiom, Equifax, Experian, Criteo, Oracle, Quantcast and Tapad. The rationale for the filings can be found here.
PI also posted an article focusing on how adverting companies use data collection and data commoditisation.
Rights.info has highlighted how the provisions of the Human Rights Act play a critical role in the protection of individuals from surveillance.
The Telegraph has considered the technology that underpins Chinese digital surveillance. The Independent has noted how the software can be used to identify individuals by their gait.
Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation
E.S. v Austria, a highly significant European Court of Human Rights case has been covered by Strasbourg Observers. The case found that, in some instances, Austria could legitimately curb free speech to protect the feelings of religious believers.
The Press Gazette has reported that IMPRESS may split in the next three years with the view to broadening the remit of its services to include elements such as pro bono work.
The Media Reform Coalition has published an open letter to the Guardian’s Reader Editor following a complaint regarding misleading coverage of antisemitism in the Labour party.
Two complaints lodged against a BBC documentary covering the Manchester Arena bombing have been upheld.
The Daily Mail has apologised to Treasury Counsel Alison Morgan following its publication an article implying she was facing criticism for selecting charges in the prosecution of cricketer Ben Stokes. In fact, it is the CPS who holds authority over charging decisions. Morgan’s solicitors, Brett Wilson LLP, have commentary on the case.
Three rulings and a resolution statement have been published by IPSO’s Complaints Committee this week:
- 04853-18 Lennon v Daily Express, provision 1 (accuracy), no breach – after investigation
- 04402-18 Department for Health Northern Ireland v The Times, provision 1, no breach – after investigation
- 03432-18 Benedict v dailyrecord.co.uk, provisions 1, 2 (privacy), 9 (reporting of crime), 16 (payment to criminals)
- 01061-18 A Man v The Sunday Times, provisions 1, 2 and 3 (harassment), no breach after investigation
- Resolution Statement 20926-17 Salmond v Daily Record, provision 1, resolved via IPSO mediation
- Resolution Statement 20560-17 Salmond v Sunday Mail, provision 1, resolved by IPSO mediation
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 5 November 2018 there was a statement in open court in the case of His Highness Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdullah Al Alaoui of Morocco v Elaph Publishing Ltd. A Press Release from the claimant’s solicitors followed by the Statement in Open Court can be found here.
Last Week in the Courts
On 8 November 2018, Warby J handed down judgment in Price v MGN Limited  EHWC 3014 (QB), finding that the words complained of bore the claimant’s pleaded meaning and dismissing the defendant’s application for summary judgment and strike out. There was a report about the decision in the Press Gazette.
- Conference on trade secrets and algorithmic systems, November 16 – 17 2018, 8:30 – 15:30, Lipton Hall, D’Agostino Hall, 108 West 3rd Street, New York, NY
- Stanford internet and society lab – secret dockets, secret searches, 27 November 2018, 12:50 – 13:50, Room 320D, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, CA
- Internet & Digital Media Law Conference 2018, London, 5 December 2018
- Protecting the Media Conference, London, 4 December 2018
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the Geoffrey Rush defamation trial the Judge has refused the defendant permission to rely on the evidence of “Witness X”. After a trial lasting two and a half weeks closing submissions began on Wednesday. The Guardian has a report.
In an INFORRM post Hugh Stephens considers the implications for copyright law due to legislating for internet regulation.
Michael Geist has a post which highlights the mechanisms under Canadian Law Copyright which operate akin to injunctions and how they render calls for the implementation of a new internet focused intermediary injunction unneeded. Geist also comments on his recent appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance.
The Times of India has an article featuring a recent High Court defamation case which found that referring to a man as “impotent” is defamatory in certain contexts.
Reuters have launched an appeal in a bid to free its journalists who are serving a seven year sentence for breaching the official secrets act in the course of their reporting on the military’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
Denton’s Privacy and Cybersecurity law Blog has analysed California’s much debated California Consumer Privacy Act 2018.
The IAPP has a podcast interviewing Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra.
Research and Resources
- Libel actions – here or the United States?, Persephone Bridgman Baker, Law Society Gazette, 5 November 2018.
- Privacy Law’s Indeterminacy, 20 Theoretical Inquiries L. XX (2019), Ryan Calo
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 12 November 2018, McGowan J will hear an application in the case of ABC v Google LLC.
On Tuesday 13 November 2018 there will be a hearing in the Privy Council of an Isle of Man libel appeal, Nugent v Willers.
there will be a PTR in the case of ZXC v Bloomberg (which is listed for trial on 26 November 2018 with an estimate of 4 days). [Adjourned]
As already mentioned, the Lachaux appeal will be heard by the UK Supreme Court on 13 and 14 November 2018.
On 14 November 2018 there will be a PTR in the case of Bloor v Beresford.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:
Economou v Freitas, heard 17 and 18 April 2018 (Lewison, Ryder and Sharp LJJ)
Monir v Wood, heard 16 to 19 April and 3 to 5 July 2018 (Nicklin J).
Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland, heard 25 and 26 July 2018 (Sharp and Asplin LJJ and Sir Rupert Jackson).
Butt v Secretary of State for the Home Department, heard 17 October 2018 (Underhill V-P, Sharp LJ and Sir Rupert Jackson).
This Round Up was compiled by Suneet Sharma, a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media law.