A loyal reader has pointed out that the Inforrm Blog missed its own thirteenth birthday (and transition into being a teenager), on 22 January 2023. We will take this opportunity to remind readers that we have now been publishing for over 13 years.
Our first post was on 22 January 2010, in the days of the great libel reform debate. We began with 7 page views and one post in the first month. Now, thirteen years later, we have had a total of nearly 5,900 posts and 6.2 million page views.
The media law issues we have debated have changed over the years. If 2010 was the year of libel reform, the focus in 2011 moved to privacy, The first half of 2011 saw the “Super-Injunction spring”. In 2011 to 2012 there was phone hacking followed by the Leveson Inquiry – which reported in November 2012.
The discussion in 2013 was dominated by the Leveson Report and the debate about its implementation. In 2014 we had the coming into force of the Defamation Act 2013 – which had been the result of the libel reform debate which partly inspired our launch – was first set up – phone hacking and Operation Elveden trials and Google Spain.
In 2015 we had the Mirror Phone Hacking damages trial and appeal, the beginnings of a body of case law on the Defamation Act 2013 and the continuing importance of data protection issues. And privacy injunctions seemed to be making a slow comeback …
In 2016 the mini-revival of the privacy injunction continued, notably with PJS v News Group in the Supreme Court (our post on the Court of Appeal decision granting the injunction is now our most popular of all time). The Courts continued to grapple with the Defamation Act 2013 and data protection issues began to bubble to the surface. The press regulation debate continued – culminating in the DCMS Consultation on section 40 and Leveson 2 (which had predictable results)
In 2017 we had the creation of the new “Media and Communications List” in the High Court. The Supreme Court refused to strike down media CFAs but reasserted the importance of open justice. The Court of Appeal reinterpreted the meaning of serious harm in the Defamation Act 2013 and Inforrm reached 4 million hits. From a global perspective the most controversial issue was “Fake News” – with many posts devoted to questions as to what it was and how to deal with it. Our post on the Top 10 Defamation cases of this year became one of the most popular ever.
In 2018, we had a series of posts on the Government’s cancellation of Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry. the failed attempt by the House of Lords to reintroduce the inquiry in the Data Protection Bill and the unsuccessful application for judicial review of the cancellation decision. There was the first English “right to be forgotten” case and the most high profile case of the year was that brought by Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC. It was also the year of “Cambridge Analytica” and the GDPR.
In 2019 there were new civil procedure rules, practice directions and pre-action protocols for Media and Communications cases (in what is now a specialist list). The Supreme Court gave a definitive ruling on the meaning of section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 and the Court of Appeal permitted a “representative action” for damages in a data protection case.
In 2020 we had the year of lockdown with online only hearings for much of the year. After Lockdown 1, the libel courts managed a live hearing of the highest profile “celebrity libel case” of the century, Johnny Depp v NGN. We had full coverage of the trial and the judgment. There were also data protection and libel trials arising out of the infamous “Trump dossier” and, of course, Wagatha Christie. This was also the year when the Court of Appeal confirmed that police investigations and arrests were private.
In 2021 we continued our coverage of media and legal issues. Privacy injunctions have become a rarity, while preliminary issue trials on meaning are now the norm. The success of Google’s appeal in Lloyd v Google and the decision in Warren v DSG Retail (see our post here) seems to have halted 2021’s flow of data breach claims. Jurisdiction lawyers were getting used to a world without EU law. And phone hacking litigation was still with us.
In 2022 we covered two high profile libel trials, both heard by Steyn J. First, there was the controversial case of Banks v Cadwalladr – we reports on the trial (Day 1, Day 2, Day 5) and a series of comments on the judgment (here, here and here). And then there was the Wagatha Christie case – lost by the claimant and producing documentaries and a play. In February 2022 the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of ZXC v Bloomberg – confirming that suspects in criminal cases have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This was also the year of the great “SLAPP” debate – with a hastily prepared “call for evidence” and even more hasty response raising more questions than answers. The question remained: was this a real problem or a “defendant’s wildcard”.
In 2023 we will continue to cover case law from Britain, Europe and around the world and other issues such as the (still unfinished) “online safety” legislation and the great “SLAPP debate” (see this recent contribution). There will also be another phone hacking trial – once again against MGN. All suggestions for topics from our readers are welcomed.
We would like to thank all our readers and contributors over the past 7 years. The top posts over this period have been from a number of outside authors – taking a range of different views on the issues.
The top 10 posts of all time, in descending order, are:
- Top 10 Defamation Cases of 2017, a selection – Suneet Sharma
- How to avoid defamation – Steven Price
- Case Law: PJS v News Group Newspapers, Court of Appeal grants privacy injunction – Sara Mansoori and Aidan Wills
- Top 10 Defamation Cases of 2020: a selection – Suneet Sharma
- Case Law, India: Puttaswamy v Union of India, Supreme Court recognises a constitutional right to privacy in a landmark judgment – Hugh Tomlinson QC
- Top 10 Privacy and Data Protection Cases of 2019: a selection – Suneet Sharma
- Harassment and injunctions: Cheryl Cole – Natalie Peck
- “The cases of Vanessa Perroncel and John Terry – a curious legal affair” – Dominic Crossley
- Is there is any difference between the public interest and the interest of the public? – Brian Cathcart
- Defamation Act 2013: A Summary and Overview – Iain Wilson and Max Campbell
Our intention continues to be to serve as a “forum” for debating issues and we would encourage readers to offer contributions on any issue concerning media responsibility, media law and the other topics which we have been writing about. Contact us at email@example.com
Well done Hugh and the Team on a fantastic effort which is much appreciated by all your readers all over the Globe!
A brilliant and unique resource in my view.
Stuart Gibson (Macpherson Kelley Lawyers, Melbourne)
Happy birthday – inform is an excellent resource.