The legal year in England and Wales ended last Friday, 31 July 2015. The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are now on vacation until Michaelmas Term begins on 1 October 2015. Our Table of Media Law cases records 78 judgments in media law cases this legal year, a similar number to 2013-2014.
On our analysis, there were seven judgments after full trials. Only two of those trials were against the mainstream media – the Daily Mail (Garcia) and the Sun (Mitchell). The media lost one and won one. Overall the claimants were successful in 3 out of the 7 cases. There were also four “damages” only trials: Sloutsker v Romanova, Bussey v Page, Johnson v Steele and ReachLocal v Bennett.
We are aware of five libel judgments in the Court of Appeal. Most high profile was that in which the Court partially overturned the decision of Tugendhat J in Cruddas v Calvert.
The only media law judgment in the Supreme Court was in the remarkable case of OPO v Rhodes ( 2 WLR 1373) – the subject of two of our most popular posts of the year by Dan Tench (on the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court decisions). There was one media law case in the Privy Council – with judgment still awaited.
The most important data protection judgment of the year was that of the Court of Appeal in the case of Vidal-Hall v Google ( EWCA Civ 311) – again the subject of a popular case comment. This is now subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. The claims against Google in Hegglin and Mosley were both settled although permission to serve out was granted in both cases.
In privacy, the most important judgment of the year was that of Mann J in the Chancery Division in the case of Gulati v MGN in which damages totalling £1.2 million were awarded to 8 victims of phone hacking. MGN is seeking permission to appeal and a decision is still awaited from the Court of Appeal. There were only three privacy injunctions against the mainstream media in the calendar year (see our post here).
In terms of judges, the position of Warby J as the leading High Court media law specialist was confirmed with a total of 25 reserved judgments – the next highest number was 8 by Sir David Eady. Although HHJ Moloney QC gave only one reserved judgment he gave at least 7 more ex tempore judgments in media law cases. Warby J did not preside over any of this year’s full trials but gave what looks like the most important first instance judgment of the year, Lachaux v Independent Print.
In the Court of Appeal, Sharp LJ sat on almost every media law case (only missing the full set of the libel appeals by recusing herself from Cruddas due to a family Conservative Party connection).
These were the judgments after full trials
|Starr v Ward|| EWHC 1987 (QB)|
|Paris & Garden v Lewis & Byng||14 July 2015, QBD|
|Ma v St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust|| EWHC 1866 (QB)|
|Asghar v Ahmed|| EWHC 1118 (QB)|
|Rai v Bholowasia|| EWHC 382 (QB)|
|Mitchell v News Group Newspapers; Rowland v Mitchell|| EWHC 4015 (QB)|
|Garcia v Associated Newspapers|| EWHC 3137 (QB)|
These were the libel judgments in the Court of Appeal
|Murray v Associated Newspapers|| EWCA Civ 488|
|Cruddas v Calvert|| EWCA Civ 171|
|Rufus v Elliott|| EWCA Civ 121|
|Flood v Times Newspapers|| EWCA Civ 1574|
|Reed Elsevier v Bewry|| EWCA Civ 1411|