The most high profile media legal story of the week concerned the litigation between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his sixth wife, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein.  Macfarlane P found, inter alia, that the Sheikh and orchestrated the unlawful abduction of one of his daughters in Cambridge.

The Sheikh objected to the publication of the judgments.  This resulted in a further judgment, permitting publication ([2020] EWHC 122 (Fam).  The Sheikh’s appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal ([2020] EWCA Civ 283) and, on 5 March 2020, he was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.  All four judgments were then made public.  There is a post explaining the case on the Transparency Project blog.  The story attracted enormous media attention.

On 3 March 2020 there was the latest CMC in the News Group phone hacking litigation before Mann J.  At the hearing it was alleged that the Sun had received illegally obtained phone records of Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend.  There were reports on Byline Investigates and in the Press Gazette.

Paul Tweed LLP the well known specialist reputation firm in Belfast and London has been bought by listed legal services group Gateley for £2 million.

Internet and Social Media              

The BBC has an article on the environmental cost of supporting the internet.

ABC News has a piece on how social media companies are working with health authorities to combat coronavirus.

In an INFORRM post Henry Pearce has considered the implications of Google seeking to move UK users’ data to the US.

Data Privacy and Data Protection        

The EARN IT Act’s recent legislative introduction in the US Senate Judiciary Committee has been analysed by the Cyberlaw Stanford Blog. It has been criticised for aiming “to kneecap encryption under the guise of protection children online”.

The Panopticon blog reports that the the First Tier Tribunal has dismissed a Leave.EU appeal against ICO monetary penalty notices for spam emailing.  The decision is Leave.Eu Group Ltd and Eldon Insurance Services Ltd (EA/2019/ 0054-0059) [PDF]

Datacentre Dynamics has reviewed upcoming data oriented legislation.

Privacy International has a post entitled “2020 is a crucial year to fight for data protection in Africa”.

JD Supra considers data privacy and cybersecurity developments in its March 2020 update.

Airline operator Cathay Pacific has been fined £500,000 over customer data protection breaches. TechCrunch also has coverage. The ICO press release can be found here.

The ICO and Australian Information Commissioner have signed a Memorandum of Understanding around information rights regulation.

A data breach at Virgin Media has exposed over 900,000 UK customers data, ISPreview reports. has conducted an analysis of the provision for compensation for non-material damage pursuant to Article 82 of the GDPR.


The impact of coronavirus on surveillance issues in China has been covered in an insightful article from the Guardian. The Business Insider also covers the issue.

The Telegraph has considered the impact of surveillance on the brain and behaviour.

Privacy News Online has considered repercussions of workplace surveillance.

Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation

The BBC’s reporting of Brexit has come under the scrutiny following claims of bias from a previously employed publicity officer– these were recently dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

The Sun newspaper has been accused in court documents of illegally conducting phone hacking, targeting phones of Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy. The Press Gazette has also covered the story.

The Transparency Project blog has published its monthly Family Reporting Watch Round Up.



Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any statements in open court in the past week.

Recent Judgments

The judgment of Warby J in the case of Barclay v Barclay [2020] EWHC 424 (QB) is now available on Bailii.

[Update] The judgment of Warby J from the PTR on 27 February 2020 in Aven v Orbis [2020] EWHC 523 (QB) is now available on Bailii.

As already mentioned, the judgments of Macfarlane P ([2020] EWHC 122 (Fam) and the Court of Appeal ([2020] EWCA Civ 283) in the case of HH Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum v HH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein were made public following the decision of the Supreme Court on 5 March 2020 to refuse to hear the Sheikh’s appeal.

Last Week in the Courts

On Monday 2 March 2020, a judgment of Warby J in the case of Aven v Orbis [2020] EWHC 474 (QB) was handed down by Saini J.

On 3 and 4 March 2020 the Court of Appeal (Underhill, Bean and Simon LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of ZXC v Bloomberg.  Judgment was reserved.

On 3 March 2020 there was a trial in the case of Hayden v Associated Newspapers before Julian Knowles J.  Judgment was reserved.

On the same day Steyn J handed down judgment in Al Saifi v N Power [2020] EWHC 480 (QB).

As already mentioned, on the same day there was a CMC in News Group phone hacking litigation, Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers before Mann J.

On Thursday 5 March 2020 the Court of Appeal (Etherton MR, David Richards and Coulson LJJ) handed down judgment in the case of Canada Goose Retail v Persons Unknown [2020} EWCA Civ 303.  The appeal was dismissed.

On 6 March 2020 Nicol J  handed down a judgment dealing with disclosure issues following the PTR in the case of Depp II v News Group Newspapers [2020] EWHC 505 (QB).  There was a report in the Guardian and in the Press Gazette.


12 March 2020, Media and Communications List User Group (“MACLUG”), Plenary Session, 4.45pm, Court 13 Draft Agenda [doc]

14 March 2020, Media Democracy Festival, Birkbeck University, Central London. Free registration tickets are now available.

30 September 2020, 5RB Conference, IET Savoy Place.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In the case of JWR Productions Australia Pty Ltd v Duncan-Watt (No 2) [2020] FCA 236 Thawley J dismissed two libel claims concerning a Golden Girls parody puppet show.  There was a piece about the case in the Sydney Morning Herald.


The National Post reports that Subway has been ordered to pay CBC $500,000 in legal costs following its failure to sue the broadcaster for defamation.


The Sunday Times reports that former Labour Minister, Joe  Costello, is taking legal action against RTÉ in relation to a defamation case two years ago that involved comments made by him.  he is seeking a declaration that he was denied fair procedures in a defamation case in 2018 in relation to comments made about him at a trial.


A Magistrates Court in Tel Aviv has ordered the eldest son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pay NIS 286,000 ($71,000) in libel damages to a female Israeli journalist,

New Zealand reports that Invercargill Mayor has filed legal proceedings against his own council to recover his costs following a defamation trial.


Scottish Legal news has a piece by Julie Hamilton entitled “Defamation, social media and the right to insult”.

United States

The Hill reports that President Trump’s reelection campaign is suing CNN for defamation over articles about Russian efforts to assist the Presidents 2016 presidential bid.  The campaign has also brought a claim against the Washington Post.

MailOnline  reports that Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking to halt libel claim brought by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll on the grounds of Presidential immunity.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 9 March 2020 Warby J will hear an assessment of damages in the case of Reid v Price.

[Updated] On 10 March 2020  Nicol J will hear an application in the case of Johnson v McArdle, a claim for libel and malicious falsehood in respect of an article published by the defendant on a blog and on Twitter.  The claim form and particulars of claim are available on Lawtel [£]

On the same day Mann J will hand down judgment in the case of Various Claimants v MGN (heard 28 to 31 January 2020)

On 11 March 2020 the Court of Appeal (Floyd, Newey and Arnold LJJ) will hand down judgment in the data protection case of Dawson-Damer & Ors v Taylor Wessing LLP & Ors, (heard 29 and 30 January 2020).

[Update2] On 12 March 2020 there will be the trial of a preliminary issue in relation to meaning in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon before Nicklin J.


The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:

ZXC v Bloomberg, heard 3 and 4 March 2020 (Underhill, Bean and Simon LJJ)

Hayden v Associated Newspapers, heard 3 March 2020 (Julian Knowles  J)

Sube v News Group Newspapers, heard 4 to 7 February 2020 (Warby J)

W M Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants, heard 6 and 7 November 2019 (Lady Hale and Lords Reed, Kerr, Hodge and Lloyd-Jones)

Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which should be added to this list.

This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.