Law and Media Round Up – 25 May 2020

25 05 2020

The short Easter legal term has ended on Friday 22 May 2020 and the Trinity term starts on Tuesday 2 June 2020. The Courts will continue to work remotely, and updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.

On 23 May 2020 the Mirror and The Guardian published a story of Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings allegedly breaking lock down rules at the height of the pandemic. Cummings travelled to Durham to find childcare for his son and, it is claimed, subsequently undertook a second lock down trip. He and the government have said he acted “reasonably and legally” by driving from London to County Durham while his wife had coronavirus symptoms but members of both parties and members of the public are calling for him to resign. The Guardian had a piece. Sky News had an article “ Lockdown: They told us to stay home – then went out. The political figures who broke the rules”.

On 21 to 23 May 2020 Mann J heard a Case Management Conference in the News Group Newspapers managed phone hacking litigation.  The court heard claims that NGN’s alleged wrongdoings extended beyond the 1998-2010 timeframe, and Mann J will have to decided if the period of time should be extended to 1994-2011, which could open NGN to receive further potential claims. There were pieces in the Press Gazette and Byline Investigates.

During day one of the hearing, the settlement of actor Kris Marshall was announced down, with NGN offering an apology and paying a six-figures sum in damages. The Guardian had a piece.

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 25 other press freedom organizations today in sending a joint letter to the European Commission calling for reforms to European Union law on defamation. The CPJ had a post.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Journalists win High Court challenge to name council criticised by judge in child welfare case”.

The Civil Justice Council commissioned an independent review into remote hearings during the Covid-19 to gather feedback on the impact of coronavirus measures on the civil justice system. The findings will be published next Wednesday 28 May 2020 which is a few days later than planned, after more than 1,000 responses were received. Meanwhile, frontline lawyers continue to express concern about the impact of remote hearings for clients. The Law Society Gazette had a piece.

The Global Legal Chronicle reports on a decision of Master Cook to permit service of libel proceedings brought by intelligence  agency Black Cube against an Israeli broadcaster.  It is reported that the claim is for £15 million.

Internet and Social Media

The Press Gazette had a piece “Snapchat and the news industry: How youth platform is working with publishers to provide trusted news on Covid-19”.

Pringles-owner Kellogg’s is dropping advertisements for the snacks from the popular PE With Joe exercise sessions on YouTube, after the fitness classes were extended to children during the lockdown. The Guardian had a piece.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

A District Court Dutch judge has issued a preliminary ruling  that a grandmother is in breach of the GDPR by refusing to delete photographs of her grandchildren from Facebook and Pinterest. She will also receive a daily fine if she does not remove them, or if she posts new pictures. The news received wide international coverage including a piece on Schillings Insights, BBC News and The New York Times.

The ICO had a post on their website “Explaining decisions made with AI ”.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has completed an inquiry into Twitter which could pave the way for the first fines levied against “big tech” firms by the Irish watchdog. It is the first time the DPC has completed an inquiry into one of the major tech firms, but the draft decision, will remain confidential until other data watchdogs have reviewed it. The Irish Times had a piece.

DLA Piper Privacy Matters had a piece “ Ireland: first GDPR fine issued in Ireland”.

Hunton Andrews Kurth Privacy & Information Security Law Blog had a post “Swiss Game Developer Settles FTC Allegations Over COPPA Safe Harbor Claims”.

Surveillance

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had a piece “ECDC launched new weekly COVID-19 surveillance report”.

A new report claims that Amazon, Microsoft and Google are among a number of American firms that are providing various web services to Chinese surveillance firms accused of human rights abuses and which are now on a U.S. blacklist. CNBC had a news.

AlJazeera had an article “Surveillance will not save us from COVID-19”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Apple coming under pressure to help news publishers combat “screenshot” piracy of paid-for content. The issue of readers flouting copyright was highlighted last month when Guardian columnist Owen Jones used his Twitter feed to publish almost an entire Sunday Times investigation into the UK government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. The material was removed after The Sunday Times contacted Twitter, but by that stage it had been read and shared thousands of times on the platform. The Press Gazette had a piece.

IPSO

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

09380-19 Clattenburg v dailystar.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), Resolved- IPSO mediation

08479-19 Forbes v express.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach- after investigation

08417-19 Cooney et al. v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach- sanction: action as offered by publication

08376-19 Malone v The Scotsman, 1 Accuracy (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2019), No breach- after investigation

07156-19 Walters v express.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach- sanction: publication of correction

03497-19 Club 1872 v dailyrecord.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2018), Breach- sanction: publication of correction

01679-17 Sharp v Daily Record, 1 Accuracy (2016), 2 Privacy (2016), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2016), Breach- sanction: publication of correction

Last Week in the Courts

On Monday 18 May 2020, Nicol J handed down judgment in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers ([2020] EWHC 1237 (QB)).  The decision concerned  the admissibility of certain witness statements. here was a report in the Guardian.

On the same day Warby J heard a preliminary issue meaning trial in the case of Swan v Associated Newspapers. Judgment was reserved and was handed down on 22 May 2020 ([2012] EWHC 1312 (QB)).

On the same day Jay J heard a PTR in the slander case of Hodges v Naish (transferred from the Bristol District Registry).

On 19 May 2020, Soole J heard an appeal from Deputy Master Sullivan in the case of France v Khan.

On the same day Jay J handed down judgment in the case of Riley and Oberman v Heybroek (heard 28 April and 7 May 2020) [2020] EWHC 1259 (QB).  There is a news report on Legal Futures.

On 20 May 2020, Nicol J handed down judgment in the case of BrewDog Plc & Anor v Frank Public Relations Ltd [2020] EWHC 1276 (QB).  The claim was dismissed.  There was a piece in PR week.

On the same day Elisabeth Laing J heard a preliminary issue trial in the case of Warnes v Forge.  Judgment was reserved.

As already mentioned on 21 to 23 May 2020 Mann J heard a CMC in MTVIL, Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers.  

On 22 May 2020, Soole J heard an application in the harassment claim of JKL v VBN.

On the same day Jay J dealt with a paper application for relief from sanctions in the case of Piepenbrock v Associated Newspapers.

On the same day Miles J handed down judgment  in the case of Fortescue Metals v Argus Media [2020] EWHC 1304 (QB).  The Court discharged an interim breach of confidence injunction.  There was a case note on the 5RB website.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

Papua New Guinea’s commerce minister is suing Australian Financial Review for defamation over a series of articles about a multinational oil company’s dealings in the small Pacific nation. Duma strenuously denied any suggestion of impropriety and is suing Fairfax Media, now owned by Nine Entertainment, in the federal court, saying the newspaper defamed him by implying he was corrupt. The Guardian had a piece.

Canada

Mondawq News had a piece “A $750,000 Foot Long: Costs Awarded To CBC In Failed Subway Defamation Suit”.

India

The Madras High Court held that public servants and constitutional functionaries cannot be allowed to misuse the law of criminal defamation by using the State as a tool to initiate defamation proceedings against adversaries.  Quashing multiple defamation proceedings initiated against media the judge said public servants and constitutional functionaries must be able to face criticism since they owed a solemn duty to the people. “The State cannot use criminal defamation cases to throttle democracy,” he observed. The Hindu had a piece.

Russia

The Moscow Times had a piece “Rosneft Launches $610M Defamation Lawsuit Against Russian Media Outlet”.

Trinidad & Tobago

The former chairman of the Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG), Brian Stone, has been ordered to pay Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley TT$350,000 following a defamation lawsuit. In October 2019, Rowley sued Stone, an activist with the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), for statements he made in 2017 and posted to Facebook regarding allegations that the prime minister received bribes from a particular segment of the population. NYCaribNews had a piece.

United States

Law.com had a piece “Devin Nunes’ Defamation Case Against CNN Transferred to Manhattan Federal Court”.

Netflix and Ava DuVernay are asking a Florida federal judge to toss a defamation lawsuit from a New York prosecutor who isn’t happy with how she’s portrayed in When They See Us, an award-winning limited series about the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five. The Hollywood Reporter had a piece.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 29 May 2020 the Court of Appeal (Flaux, Popplewell and Dingemans LJJ) will hand down judgment in the case of Wright v Ver, heard 6 May 2020.

Judgments

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

Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers, heard 21 to 23 May 2020 (Mann J).

Warnes v Forge. heard 20 May 2020 (Elisabeth Laing J).

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

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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