The Hilary legal term begins today and ends on 31 March 2021.  It seems unlikely that there will be many “live” hearings, at least for the first part of this term whilst national lockdown continues.

Our Inforrm winter break ends today and normal posting will resume.  We will have our first full “Law and Media Round Up” on 18 January 2021 but in this post we will cover developments in the 3 weeks since our last round up on 21 December 2020.

Recent Developments

Johnny Depp has sought permission to appeal against Mr Justice Nicol’s dismissal of his libel claim against the Sun.  The application was referred to a single Lord/Lady Justice for decision on 30 December 2020.

Prince Harry’s libel claim against the Mail on Sunday has settled and the newspaper has published an apology and correction and made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation.

Data Protection

Mischon de Reya have a post on “Brexit and Data Protection”

The Privacy Matters blog has summarised the implications of Brexit for data protection including cross-border data flows.

Hawktalk has a post Does the UK-EU Trade Deal provide for adequacy and kill off the “soft opt-in”?

Recent Judgments

On 21 December 2020 Warby J handed down judgment in the privacy case of Sicri v Associated Newspapers [2020] EWHC 3541 (QB).  Damages of £83,000 were awarded to a person who was named by the Mail as having been arrested on suspicion of terrorism.  There was a piece  in the Press Gazette.

On the same day Collins Rice J handed down judgment  in the case of Day v Chivers [2020] EWHC 3522 (QB).

On 22 December 2020 Julian Knowles J handed down judgment in the case of Bukhari v Bukhari [2020] EWHC 3469 (QB).

On 23 December 2020 judgment was handed down in Onwude v Dyer [2020] EWHC 3577 (QB)(heard 6-8 October 2020) HHJ Parkes QC  dismissed a defamation claim brought by a gynaecologist against a journalist, the British Medical Journal and its editor in respect of an article reporting a decision of a General Medical Council disciplinary tribunal finding the gynaecologist guilty of misconduct on several charges and erasing him from the medical register, a decision which was overturned on appeal. The article was protected by statutory qualified privilege under the Defamation Act 1996 s.15 and as a matter of public interest under the Defamation Act 2013 s.4.  There was a report of the decision in the BMJ.

On 30 December 2020 Warby J handed down judgment in the case of S (A Child) v TikTok Inc. & Ors [2020] EWHC 3589 (QB)  An order was made permitting the issue of a representative data protection action anonymously.

Newly Issued Media and Communications List Claims

In the past 3 weeks 22 new claims have been issued in the Media and Communications List, 13 were data protection claims, 5 were claims in “libel and slander”,  2 applications for Norwich Pharmacal orders and 2 classified as “miscellaneous”.  No claims were issued against the national media.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

United States

The Independent reports that Dominion Voting Systems is suing Donald Trump’s former lawyer Sidney Powell for $1.3bn claiming she defamed the company with conspiracy theories in the weeks after the election.

Representative Devin Nunes has had his defamation claim against The Washington Post thrown out by a  federal judge.

A Delaware computer repair shop owner sued Twitter, alleging the social network defamed him by effectively labeling him a “hacker” after his business was cited as the source for info obtained from a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden that served as the basis for several New York Post articles published in October.

Vanity Fair reports that Amber Heard will be allowed to pursue her $100 million defamation countersuit against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, after a judge stopped the actor’s attempt to use new legislation to have the case against him thrown out.

On 23 December 2020 District Judge William Bertelsman dismissed 12 Covington Catholic students’ defamation and harassment lawsuit against CNN, the Washington Post, and NBC, according to court records in the U.S. Eastern District of Kentucky Court.  The Judge ruled that the students had not been defamed or unlawfully threatened by the media outlets that covered a viral video of the Northern Kentucky private school students at the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

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

Reserved Judgments

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

Wright v Granath, heard 15 October 2020 (Moylan, Singh and Popplewell LJJ)

B.C.Strategy UK Ltd v Keshet Broadcasting Ltd heard 17 November 2020  (Saini J).

Riley v Sivier, heard 11 December 2020 (Collins-Rice J).

Soriano v Forensic News LLC, heard 14 and 15 December 2020 (Jay J).

Tinkler v Ferguson, heard 16 December 2020 (McCombe, Peter Jackson and Dingemans LJJ).