The Court of Appeal heard the appeal in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers on 27 and 28 October 2015. There was a report of the first day in the Press Gazette. Judgment was reserved.
The trial of former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns for perjury continues. This week evidence was given, by among others, New Zealand cricketers, Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum. Mr Cairns is expected to begin giving evidence on Tuesday 3 November 2015. The trial was covered by the Cricinfo website and can be found here, here, here and here.
Javid Majid, one of the North-East’s leading property developers, has won damages for libel from two Teesside politicians. Majid was upset at comments made on Facebook which he believed implied he had been able to buy a development site at a cheap price from Stockton Borough Council.
The court case against Mazher Mahmood, the undercover reporter known as the Fake Sheikh, has been adjourned on “health grounds”, a court official has said. Mahmood is charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice following the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.
The BBC has said it did not resist the police seizure of reporter Secunder Kermani’s laptop because the Terrorism Act 2000 does not allow it to mount a freedom of speech defence. The South East Counter Terrorism Unit used a Production Order under the Terrorism Act to obtain the laptop after he interviewed a British-born Islamic State fighter.
On 27 October, the European Parliament approved a new regulation which will abolish roaming charges across the EU. In the same regulation, there was also discussion of net neutrality. The Media Policy Project Blog explained explain the important impact of the new Regulation on web users across the EU here.
The LSE Media Policy Project Blog argues that this news may be good news for travellers with mobile phones, but argues that pressing issues remain on the future of net neutrality in Europe. Fortune discusses the changes here, while Business Insider pinpoints the four key problems with the changes here, arguing that the proposals allow ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay through the specialized services exception.
David Cameron has said that whilst “sputtering over his cornflakes” he decided to legislate to implement filters for adult content. This follows the European Parliament vote on net-neutrality regulations, which bans the current agreement, where they provide filters for the Internet and encourage customers to use them. Some of these filters are now switched on by default.
The Chambers and Partners 2016 Edition was published this week, including its listed of ranked Defamation/Reputation Management Solicitors and of Defamation/Privacy Barristers. Chambers and Partners also announced its UK Bar awards 2015 [pdf] with Matrix Chambers winning the award for defamation set of the year, Hugh Tomlinson QC defamation silk of the year, and Catrin Evans defamation junior of the year.
Defamation set 5RB has announced that its senior clerk, Kim Janes, will retire at the end of February 2016 after 25 years in post and will be replaced by Andrew Love.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
Leading Digital Rights and Consumer NGOs have issued a declaration, “Fundamental Rights are Fundamental” [pdf]
Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, has called for a ‘mature debate’ on intercepting communications data. Paul Bernal argues that the record of the intelligence and security services and the government in relation to such a debate is not convincing.
The German legislature has passed the highly disputed new German Data Retention Act (“GDRA”). The German Constitutional Court declared the previous data retention act invalid. The new GDRA puts extensive storage obligations on telecommunications providers. It is expected that claims seeking invalidation of this new GDRA will be launched very soon.
Hawktalk discusses confusion over Google’s Enforcement Notice in the UK here.
The Information Commissioner’s Blog suggests that the next few months will be critical with regard to Safe Harbour. They are calling for Safe Harbor 2.0 to emerge and provide a strong and effective framework for protecting individuals when their personal data are transferred from the EU to the US. The Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog commented on the issue here.
The Panopticon Blog summarises EU data protection regulators responses to the judgement here.
Freedom of Information
The Campaign for Freedom of Information has responded to comments about the Freedom of Information Act made by Chris Grayling, Leader of the House. Mr Grayling said the Act is being “misused” as “a research tool to generate stories for the media, and that is not acceptable”. The response argued that Grayling should be telling the government “to look at ways of opening the process up instead.”
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation
The Independent’s spin off, the i, has reached its fifth birthday. With a circulation of 277,000 at the last count, compared to the Independent’s 58,000, it has proved to be a counterintuitive hit.
There were differing views about the takeover of Local World by Trinity Mirror. The Media Reform Coalition denounced the deal as a “serious threat to media plurality”, arguing that the deal will allow it to “wield huge amounts of unchecked power in a media environment”.
Roy Greenslade, however, argued that the deal “made sense” as it would allow the publishing group to increase digital investment and present digital advertisers with a larger audience across the UK.
The Mail’s Amanda Platell has called on everybody to leave Kate Middleton alone, hitting out at “spiteful”, “callous” “armies of whispering Kate critics”. The Media Blog examines the hypocritical nature of the statement, looking at the paper’s own role in criticising the princess.
Benjamin Pell’s “Correction of the Week” from The Times, 31 October 2015
The comment about a football boss by Judge Peter Cowell at central London county court was a judgment, not an “outburst” (“Murder case sent back to appeal court”, News, Oct 30).
Last week in the Courts
On 26 October 2015, Warby J heard the appeals in the cases of Richardson v Facebook and Richardson v Google UK Ltd. Judgment was reserved and will be handed down on 1 November 2015.
As already mentioned, on 27 and 28 October 2015, the Court of Appeal (The Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Bean LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day there will be an application in the case of Bukovsky v CPS. Blake J made an order sealing the court file. We had a report of his decision from Media Lawyer.
On the same day the application in the case of Lachaux v Lachaux was adjourned.
On 28 October 2015, there was an application in the case of Brand v Berki. Jay J granted summary judgment to the claimants, Russell Brand and Jemima Goldsmith.
Please let us know if there are any events you would like to be included on this list by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In an important judgment in the case of Duffy v Google Inc ( SASC 170) Blue J in the South Australian Supreme Court found that Google is legally responsible when its search results link to defamatory content. Dr Janice Duffy has been trying for more than six years to clear her name and remove links to defamatory material. The EFF website has a post about the case.
In the case of von Marburg v Aldred ( VSC 467) Dixon J considered the principles which apply to pleading a claim concerning publication on Facebook.
A Toowoomba family is suing the broadcaster Alan Jones and News Corporation columnist Nick Cater for defamation. The Wagner family lodged the libel claim over comments linking their quarry to a fatal flash flood in 2011.
A Perth judge has dismissed accountant Barry McEloney’s claim for $120,000 in damages. McEloney sued Stephanie Massey over nine posts she put on a Facebook site called “Poms in Perth”.
The Canberra Times reflects on Joe Hockey’s defamation action against Fairfax publications here, arguing that it was a “victory for diligent, serious journalism and a defeat for sensationalism and tabloid journalism”.
The Supreme Court is to hear an important case about legal privilege and access to information and privacy laws. This this will be a revisiting of Blood Tribe, but in the context of the provincial access to information laws.
The Ontario government has passed Bill 52, the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015, a law aimed at tackling the growing phenomenon of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). SLAPPs are often used by corporations and developers against residents and community groups who oppose proposed projects.
Disclosing someone’s identity via hyperlinks to anonymised court judgements violates Data Protection Principles, it has been decided. PogoWasRight.org discusses the implications here.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling in favour of a tabloid newspaper in the case of a €900,000 award against it has provided new hope for campaigners for press freedom, argues the Irish Examiner.
The Sunday Times had a piece about libel in Ireland by John Burns entitled “The libel lottery” [£].
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has joined demands calling for the abolition of criminal libel in Malta. “A modern democracy cannot allow for the possibility of being thrown in jail when expressing their right to freedom of expression,” he underlined.
The chairman of The Nations Newspaper Editorial Board, Sam Omatseye has sued The Sun and New Telegraph newspapers, demanding N1 billion as damages for libel after being described as an “embarrassment to journalism”.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law an act extending libel retraction and damages provisions to print and online publications. The law replaces the term “newspaper” with “daily or weekly news publication” which extends libel protections to online daily or weekly publications which were not protected under the original legislation.
Research and Resources
- MsLods Law+tech news round up, 25 October 2015
- Beyond Gatekeeping: The Normative Responsibility of Internet Intermediaries, Marcelo Thompson, University of Hong Kong, Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Vol 18, No.4, 2016
- Blasphemy in European Law, In M. Díez Bosch and J. Sànchez Torrents (eds), On Blasphemy (Blanquerna, 2015), pp. 49-64, Mauro Gatti University of Bologna.
- European Regulatory Interpretation of the Interface between Data Protection and Journalistic Freedom: An Incomplete and Imperfect Balancing Act?, David Erdos, University of Cambridge – Faculty of Law.
- Taking the Long Way Home: The Human Right of Privacy, Privacy in the Modern Age: The Search for Solutions, Marc Rotenberg, Julia Horwitz, and Jeramie Scott, eds. (The New Press, 2015) Deborah Hurley.
- Seeking a Safe Harbor in a Widening Sea: Unpacking the EJC’s Schrems Decision and What it Means for Transatlantic Relations, Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 2016, Forthcoming, Scott Shackelford, Indiana University – Kelley School of Business – Department of Business Law.
- Multifactoral Free Speech , Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 110, 2016, Alexander Tsesis, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Next week in the courts
On 2 November 2015 Warby J will hand down judgment in the cases of Richardson v Facebook and Richardson v Google UK Ltd.
On 5 November 2015 there will be an application in the case of Ahuja v Politica.
On 6 November 2015, there will be an application in the case of Dedicoat v News Group Newspapers.
Finally, we note that the trial in Business Energy Solutions Ltd v BES Commercial Energy Ltd, the first dealing with serious financial loss under s.1(2) of the Defamation Act 2013, is due to take place on 26 and 27 November 2015.
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
Rahman v ARY Network Ltd, heard 1, 2 and 6 July 2015 (Haddon-Cave J).
Yeo v Times Newspapers. heard 12-16 and 19-20 October 2015 (Warby J)
Gulati v MGN, heard 20 and 21 October 2015 (Arden, Rafferty and Kitchin LJJ)
Weller v Associatend Newspapers, heard 27 and 28 October 2015 (The Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Bean LJJ)
This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher. She tweets @tessadevans