Law and Media Round Up – 6 April 2020 [Updated]

6 04 2020

The Hilary Legal Term ends this Wednesday 8 April 2020, and the short Easter Term will not begin until Tuesday  21 April 2020. The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are on “vacation” over this period.

In ordinary times Inforrm would take a short Easter break.  However, as most of our readers will be locked down at home we have decided to continue with our regular weekly “Round Ups” over the next fortnight.

On 2 April 2020 the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary’s website announced an update to the Civil Procedure Rules. The Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chancellor have signed Practice Direction 51ZA (PD) principally in relation to the extension of time limits during the Coronavirus pandemic with immediate effect.

The  Courts and Tribunals Judiciary’s website also continues to produce and update Guidance for the courts during the Coronavirus outbreak.

By Directions dated 1 April 2020 [pdf], the First Tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights) has issued a general stay of ALL PROCEEDINGS under section 48 of the Data Protection Act 1998, section 162 of the Data Protection Act 2018 and section 57 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, lasting 28 days from the date of the Directions.

On 1 April 2020 the Supreme Court handed down the judgment in the case of WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants([2020] UKSC 12), where it reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and found that Morrisons was not vicariously liable for a rogue employee who posted payroll data of 100,000 other employees on a file-sharing website.  We had a post on

The Supreme Court also found that imposing statutory liability on data controllers (in this case through the Data Protection Act 1998 (the “DPA”) but by analogy also under the GDPR) is not inconsistent with the co-existence of vicarious liability at common law. Inforrm had a post as did the Panopticon blog and the Mishcon de Reya Data Matters website .

The Times has agreed to apologise and pay substantial damages to Ahammed Hussain, the leader of a Scout group based at Lewisham Mosque after publishing false allegations that he promoted extremism and was being investigated by the police.  There was a piece on the Rahman Lowe website.

The Press Gazette had a piece “RT loses High Court challenge against Ofcom over £200,000 fine for impartiality breaches”.

Internet and Social Media

The Press Gazette had a piece “Going viral: Twitter and Facebook failing to contain Covid-19 misinformation”.

Google has announced $6.5m (£5.2m) worth of grants to support fact-checking groups and non-profits worldwide battling misinformation on coronavirus. The Press Gazette had a piece.

The Guardian had a piece “YouTube profits from videos promoting unproven Covid-19 treatments”.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The Panopticon Blog had a piece about the representative action in the case of Atkinson v Equifax, which has now been withdrawn.  The Particulars of Claim can be found on Lawtel [pdf][£].

The Council of Europe had a news piece “Saving lives, respecting data protection”.

Schillings Insights had a post “ Welcome to Houseparty. Leave your privacy and data at the door?

On Monday 30 April 2020, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, sent a letter to Zoom asking it to outline the measures it had taken to address security concerns and accommodate the rise in users.  A spokesman from Zoom told the Guardian it was planning to send James the requested information and comply with the request. “Zoom takes its users’ privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously,” the spokesman said. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are working around the clock to ensure that hospitals, universities, schools and other businesses across the world can stay connected and operational.” The Guardian had a piece.

Forbes had a piece “Zoom Alternatives: 5 Options For People Who Care About Security And Privacy”.

Surveillance

Amnesty international had a piece on the application of technology in the name of combatting coronavirus and how some governments are rushing to expand their use of surveillance technologies to track individuals and even entire populations. If left unchecked and unchallenged, these measures have the potential to fundamentally alter the future of privacy and other human rights.

The German language Internet-Law blog has a piece entitled “The corona tracking app.  A good idea?” (see the Google translate version)

According to a report from Bloomberg, the UK government is asking mobile network operators to hand over customer roaming data, which would purportedly help it repatriate Brits stranded abroad as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Forbes had an article.

The Guardian had a piece “‘Cybergulag’: Russia looks to surveillance technology to enforce lockdown”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Press Gazette had a piece “BBC regional news chief says social media no replacement for ‘rigorous journalism’”.

IPSO

IPSO had a blog post “Reporting breaking news”.

IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:

Last Week in the Courts

On Monday 30 March 2020 there was an application for summary judgment/strike-out in the case of BVG v LAR  This was heard by telephone Judgment was reserved.

An application listed for telephone hearing by Jay J in Gubarev v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd settled shortly before the hearing.

On Tuesday 31 March and Weds 1 April 2020 Nicklin J heard a 2-day application to strike out in Tinkler v Ferguson & ors by telephone. Judgment was reserved

We have already mentioned the judgment in W M Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants ([2020] UKSC 12), (heard 6 and 7 November 2019) was handed down on 1 April 2020.

On Thursday 2 April 2020 a preliminary issue trial in Peck v Williams Trade Supplies Ltd took place before Nicklin J by way of written submissions. Judgment was reserved.

On 3 April 2020 Warby J gave a judgment (at a remote hearing via Zoom) in the case of Zenith Logistics v Coury [2020] EWHC 774 (QB).  The judgment was in two cases, heard together which both concerned the issue as to whether it was compatible with the requirements of open justice for the Court to make an order staying proceedings on terms contained in a confidential schedule.

On Tuesday 7 April 2020 there was a preliminary issue trial in Rachel Riley v Murray due to take place before Nicklin J and estimated at 1 day proceeded by way of written submissions. Judgment was reserved.

Events

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

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Armenia

Human Rights Watch had a press release “Law Restricts Privacy Amid COVID-19 Fight”.

Australia

The former head of Macquarie’s private bank is suing an Australian-based Chinese news outlet for defamation over an article read widely on social media platform WeChat that he says accuses him of running a company that “takes advantage of unsophisticated Chinese investors”. The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece.

Canada

The Court of Appeal of Yukon has ordered a new civil trial for two Dawson City women sued in a defamation case last year. The appeals court found the original trial judge made an error in law.  Audrey Vigneau and Susan Hermann were originally found guilty of defaming a Dawson City couple and ordered to pay $809,000 in damages. CBC had a new piece.

Mondaq had a piece “LCO Recommends New Regime For Online Defamation”.

India

The Committee to Protect Journalists had an alert “Indian Supreme Court denies government request for prior censorship of COVID-19 news”.

Ireland

The Irish Times had a pieceTemporary arrangement reached in case involving businessman and Facebook”.

Pakistan

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari sent a Rs1 billion defamation notice to PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif in reaction of allegations made by Khawja Asif that the PM’s aide used his influence to allow pilgrims from Iran to return to the country via Taftan without fulfilling proper requirements. Daily Times had a piece.

United States

Don Blankenship, the former chief of Massey Energy who unsuccessfully attempted to run for Senate in West Virginia two years ago, has received the green light to proceed in a defamation suit that blames a number of individuals and media organizations for his political loss. The Hollywood reporter had a piece.

The New York Times had a piece “NY High Court Keeps Woman’s Suit vs. Trump on Hold, for Now”.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

We are not aware of any media law cases listed for next week.

Judgments

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

Rachel Riley v Murray, heard 7 April 2020 (Nicklin J) 

Peck v Williams Trade Supplies Ltd 2 April 2020 (Nicklin J) 

Tinkler v Ferguson & ors, heard 31 March and 1 April 2020 (Nicklin J) 

BVG v LAR, heard 30 March 2020 (Nicol J).

Aven v Orbis Business Intelligence, heard 16 to 19 March 2020 (Warby J)

Serafin v Malkiewicz, heard 17 and 18 March 2020 (UKSC)

JQL v NTP, heard 17 to 20 March 2020 (HHJ Lewis, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge).

Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon, heard 12 March 2020 (Nicklin J)

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

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

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

This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.

NOTE TO READERS

The Coronavirus lockdown is an ideal time for Inforrm readers to compose all those blog posts they have been thinking about for many months but been too busy to write.  This is an ideal opportunity to keep in touch with the media law world.  We can be contacted at inforrmeditorial@gmail.com


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