Case Law Update: Five recent media law judgments

25 04 2019

In the last week of the Hilary Legal Term, after our last weekly round up, five media law judgments were handed down.  Two by the Court of Appeal and three at first instance.  These deal with a number of important issues, particularly in the field of privacy.

The Court of Appeal handed down two judgments on 16 April 2019

Ali v Channel 5 ([2019] EWCA Civ 677)(heard 4 December 2018): The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal on quantum and a cross appeal on liability in a privacy case arising out of the Channel 5 programme “Can’t pay? We’ll take it away”.  We had a case note on this decision by Tom Double.

Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland ([2019] EWCA Civ 648 [£])(judgment not presently available on Bailii)(heard 25 to 26 July 2018): The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from a decision of Sir David Eady ([2018] EWHC 3368 (QB)).  The Court held that the English court was not precluded by Article 4(1) of Regulation 1215/2012 from applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens and staying a claim against a Scottish defendant on the basis that Scotland was the more appropriate forum. Whilst Scotland and England/Wales were two separate jurisdictions, they were not separate Member States. The Regulation was directed to jurisdiction of the UK courts, not to jurisdiction within the UK.

There were two judgments handed down by Warby J on the same day

Feyziyev v Journalism Development Network [2019] EWHC 957 (QB)(heard 12 April 2019).  This was the trial of a preliminary issue on meaning.  It was held that the two articles complained of each bore Chase Level 2 meanings: reasonable grounds to suspect wrongdoing.

Alexander-Theodotou & Ors v Kounis [2019] EWHC 956 (QB)(heard 22 March 2019). A libel claim was struck out because, although words posted on Facebook were defamatory, they had not caused serious harm to the claimants’ reputations.  The number of readers who could and would reasonably have identified the claimants is a small one, and those would be people who would already have taken an adverse view of the claimants’ professional conduct, and no serious damage is likely to have resulted.

Finally, on 17 April 2019, Nicklin J handed down judgment after trial of an important privacy case

ZXC v Bloomberg LP [2019] EWHC 970 (QB)(heard 27 to 30 November 2018). It was held that the claimant’s privacy rights were engaged by the publication in a news article of information that he was implicated in an investigation into bribery and corruption based on a confidential letter of request to a foreign government from a UK law enforcement body. The high level of confidentiality of the letter of request and the serious breach of confidence by its leak were significant factors reinforcing the public interest in maintaining confidentiality of police investigations. The publisher’s right to freedom of expression did not outweigh the individual’s right to privacy.  The claimant obtained an injunction an award of damages of £25,000.  We will publish a case comment on this case shortly.

 


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