On 25 March 2021 the Court of Appeal (Underhill and Dingemans LJJ) handed down judgment ([2021] EWCA Civ 423), refusing Johnny Depp’s application for permission to appeal against Nicol J’s dismissal of his libel claim against the Sun.

The Court emphasised that an appeal against the decision of a trial judge on questions of disputed fact faced serious difficulties [8] and found that none of the criticisms of the Judge’s reasoning or conclusion had a real prospect of success. Inforrm and 5RB had posts.

It is reported that the US paparazzi agency, Splash News and Picture Agency, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying that its continuing legal battle with the Duchess of Sussex placed “an unacceptable risk to the survival of the business.”   The Duchess had sued Splash News for breach of privacy over photos taken of her and her then 8-month-old son Archie on Vancouver Island in February 2020.  A hearing had been listed for 29 March 2021.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Ofcom says uncensored use of N-word in BBC news report was ‘unjustified‘”

Freedom of expression campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in France claiming it is failing to provide the “safe” online environment it promises, both for journalists and the wider public. The case has been filed in France but RSF said a ruling “has the potential for a global impact” because the platform’s terms of service are the same around the world. The lawsuit also concerns Facebook Ireland, and RSF said it may file more lawsuits in other countries. The Press Gazette had a piece.

The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Newman v Southampton City Council & Ors [2021] EWCA Civ 437, ruling that the High Court’s balancing exercise, between the privacy of the child in the case and Newman’s right to freedom of expression, had been “conducted with meticulous care” and “demonstrated no error of law”. The appellant, freelance journalist Melanie Newman, lost her bid to see a file of family court documents relating to a child who was almost permanently taken away from her mother. The Press Gazette had a piece.

On 28 March 2021 the Transparency Project  Blog published its regular Family Court Reporting Watch Roundup

The Hilary Legal Term will end on Wednesday 31 March 2021.  The Easter legal term will begin on Tuesday 13 April 2021.  We will shortly be taking an Easter break – with regular round ups beginning again on 12 April 2021.

As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.

Internet and Social Media

Daily Mail publisher DMG Media has not signed a cash-for-content deal with Google because the “money isn’t adequate and the terms are too restrictive”, according to editor emeritus Peter Wright who spoke at the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee hearing on freedom of expression online. The Press Gazette had a piece.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The ICO’s blog had a post “Data Protection law can help create public trust and confidence around COVID-status certification schemes”.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child announced the formation of recommendations for children’s online protections based on responses from more than 700 young people ages 9 to 22 from 27 countries. On the topic of privacy, the committee outlined how children’s data should be protected at all times, noting parents should be able to access and delete their children’s data that is collected by private and public entities. Europe Data Digest had a piece.


The Guardian had a piece “‘Missing from desk’: AI webcam raises remote surveillance concerns

Human Rights Watch said that the improvements to the European Union’s export controls rules on surveillance technology are so fragile that only rigorous efforts to carry them out will prevent EU technology from landing in the hands of abusive governments. The new rules, adopted after nearly a decade of lawmaking, regulate the sale of “dual use” items produced in the EU, including mass and intrusive surveillance systems, aiming at preventing their sale to abusive governments.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

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

01741-20 A man v thesun.co.uk, 11 Victims of sexual assault (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication

28580-20 Portes v Metro, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication

28482-20 Chott v Yellow Advertiser, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication

11743-20 Sharp v dailyrecord.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication

New Cases

There were 12 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List this  last week: 5 defamation cases, 4 data protection cases, 2 Norwich Pharmacal applications and one Pre-Action injunction application.  Abramovich v Harper Collins, issued on 22 March 2021

Last Week in the Courts

On 21 and 22 March 2021 Nicklin J heard a pre-trial review in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon.  There were reports of the hearing on the BBC website and in the Daily Mail.

On Wednesday and Thursday 24 and 25 March 2021 Julian Knowles J heard an application in the case of Kumlin v Jonsson.  Judgment was reserved. Blueprint for Free Speech had reports on the first day and the second day.

On 24 and 25 March 2021 there was a trial  in the libel case of Junejo v New Vision TV Limited before Murray J.  Judgment  was reserved.

As already mentioned on 25 March 2021 the Court of Appeal handed down two judgments.  First, the judgment in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers ([2021] EWCA Civ 423 [pdf]).

Second, the judgment in Newman v Southampton City Council & Ors [2021] EWCA Civ 437.

On the  same day HHJ Paul Matthews handed down judgment in the breach of  confidence case of Brake v Guy [2021] EWHC 670 (Ch).

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


The Sydney Morning Herald “‘I’ll get her for defamation’: Court releases Jarryd Hayne phone calls”.

The ABC managing director, David Anderson, has mounted a strong defence of Louise Milligan’s reporting on Christian Porter, saying her journalism was in the public interest and of the “highest quality”. Last week the attorney general commenced defamation proceedings against the ABC and the investigative journalist in the federal court to counter “false allegations against him in relation to a person who he met when he was a teenager”. The Guardian had a piece.


The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an alert after Iranian authorities jail journalist Amir Dehbashi in defamation case.


The Irish Times had a piece “Lidl claims IFA allegations about milk origin are defamatory”.


Singapore’s High Court ordered a local blogger to pay S$133,000 ($98,800) in damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for sharing a defamatory article about him on Facebook. Bloomberg had an article.

United States

The North American voting machine company Dominion has hit Fox News with a $1.6bn defamation lawsuit, accusing the network of spreading election fraud lies in a misguided effort to stop an exodus of enraged viewers after Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

The complaint accuses some of Fox’s biggest personalities and their chosen guests” of spreading “defamatory falsehoods” about Dominion. The Guardian had a piece.

Research and Resources

Next Week In the Courts

On 29 March 2021,  Johnson J will  hear an application in the case of  Soriano v Forensic News LLC and others

Reserved Judgments

The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:

Kumlin v Jonsson, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Julian Knowles J).

Junejo v New Vision TV Limited, heard 24 and  25 March 2021 (Murray J)

Millett v Corbyn, heard 16 March 2021 (Vos MR, Sharp P, Warby LJ).

Miller v College of Policing and another, heard 9 and 10 March 2021 (Sharp P,  Haddon-Cave and Simler LJJ)

Lachaux v Independent Print, heard  22 and 24 February and 1 March 2021 (Nicklin J)

Wright v McCormack, heard 16 and 18 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)

Desporte v Bull, heard 9 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)

Spicer v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, heard 1 to 5 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J).

Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which we should be listing.

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