The case of Lachaux v Independent Print, the most important libel appeal of 2016 will be heard by the Court of Appeal (McFarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ) on 29 and 30 November 2016. This is first consideration of the “serious harm” test in section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 by an appellate court.
The Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the decision of Warby J ( EWHC 2242 (QB))(see our case comment here). The Court will also hear an appeal against the later decision of Sir Michael Tugendhat on issues of privilege ( EWHC 3677 (QB)).
The Supreme Court is being urged to overturn the conviction of a journalistic source in an Operation Eleven trial. Former Belmarsh prison officer Robert Norman is seeking to overturn his conviction for misconduct in public office after the Daily Mirror paid him £10,684 over five years for 40 pieces of information. The call to overturn the conviction has come after it was revealed that Trinity Mirror handed over evidence about Norman to the police to save people ‘further up the tree.’ Roy Greenslade has called for Trinity Mirror’s chiefs to resign for ‘failing to protect a source.’
On 21 November 2016 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”. The Internet Policy Review has called the resolution “crucial and timely”.
Following the death this week of Fidel Castro, Amnesty International notes that “The state of freedom of expression in Cuba, where activists continue to face arrest and harassment for speaking out against the government, is Fidel Castro’s darkest legacy.” In May 2016, Amnesty had a report entitled “Six facts about censorship Cuba“.
Twitter has announced in a blog post that it will “take on expanded enforcement and compliance efforts” to quell third-party surveillance and misuse of data on its site.
Jeff Joseph Paul Kadicheeni in the Hoot has argued that Twitter’s track record in cracking down on abuse, trolls, and fake accounts is the result of its “indifference, its policies, and ineffective handling.”
Verizon is the latest company to accelerate their tracking efforts despite concerns about the privacy of consumers. It is planning to follow Facebook and Google by combining offline and online information to create a consumer data profile.
Roy Greenslade in the Guardian has argued that ‘fake news’ is not social media’s fault, because we live in a “post-truth society where it is extraordinarily difficult to correct falsehoods passed on so swiftly and indiscriminately through the net.”
Data Protection and Data Privacy
A study carried out by the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London and Pinsent Masons law firm has predicted a 600% rise in data protection disputes in the next five years.
A letter has been published in the Daily Telegraph highlighting concerns with the “information sharing” provision of the Digital Economies Bill.
The FisherField Privacy, Security and Information Law blog has tried to gauge what the proposed reforms to the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications which are due to be published in mid-January 2017 might be.
Data protection groups have said that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is planning a major limitation of privacy rights in Germany.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner has stepped up their investigation into the Yahoo hack.
Freedom of Information
The Daily Telegraph has won a freedom of information battle to uncover advice on taking up private sector work which was given to Tony Blair by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).
Royal assent to the Investigatory Powers Bill, or Snoopers’ Charter, is imminent now that it has passed through the final stages at the House of Lords.
Motherboard has reported that the FBI hacked over 8000 computers in 120 countries base on one warrant.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court read in the last week.
We have now been provided with a copy of the statement in open court read on 4 November 2016 [pdf] before Dingemans J in the case of Suresh v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
In the Guardian, Roy Greenslade examines what the latest sales figures can tell us about the current state of print journalism.
Zelo Street has pointed out the hypocrisy of the Sun’s front page this week criticising Tony Blair for becoming involved in the Brexit debate, saying “The man who single-handedly fuelled the anti-EU rage which triggered Britain’s stunning OUT vote in June now wants to have his say on Brexit”, when the same paper used to back Blair.
Zelo Street also pointed out the hypocrisy of a Daily Mail front page story with the headline “Top economists accused of Brexit doom-mongering after claiming living standards squeeze is worst since 1920s … WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO KID?” They point out that whilst in this article the Mail criticises the Institute for Fiscal Studies, they wrote positive articles about the same organisation earlier in the year.
IPSO has rejected privacy complaints made against the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Telegraph over pictures of Andy Murray’s baby daughter, Sofia Murray. They also rejected harassment complaints. The complaint said that publication of images of Sophia, against the express wishes of her parents, was “likely to cause harm and distress”. IPSO rejected the complaint on the grounds that Sofia’s face was only partially visible.
Last week in the Courts
We are not aware of any media law cases in the courts last week.
1 December 2016, Event: Internet & Social Media Law 2016, Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London. This conference brings you the latest updates and developments in light of such things as the Digital Single Market, the Investigatory Powers Bill, and the legal implications of Brexit.
8 December 2016, Article 19 event: 250 years of freedom of information, Free Word Centre.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Weatherup v Nationwide News Pty  QSC 266, North J awarded a retired journalist libel damages of Aus $100,000 over allegations that he was habitually intoxicated and lost his job as a result. The award included aggravated damages because the defendant persisted in an “unjustifiable” defence.
A football coach has been ordered to pay a former Capital Football boss Heather Reid more than $182,000 for defaming her on Facebook.
Brisbane businessman Jarrod Sierocki is suing Google for $750,000 for the alleged reappearance of online slurs against him which were the subject of a successful defamation suit last year.
A post on the Supreme Court’s website has explained why courts found an author guilty for defaming dead heroes.
The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has followed up on privacy concerns over the collection and integration of user’s personal data by three mobile apps with “call-blocking” function.
After the Nusli Wadia vs. Tata Group defamation case, the Business Standard looks at five other defamation cases in corporate India that have “rocked corporate India”.
Legally India looks at the question of intermediary liability in the case of Google India vs. Visaka Industries.
In the case of Meegan v Times Newspapers  IECA 327 the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of the Sunday Times against an order requiring discovery of the journalist’s notes and other background material in a case where the newspaper was relying on the defence of “fair and reasonable publication”. There was a report of the decision in the Press Gazette.
A woman who claimed she had been accused of stealing money dropped by another customer in a filling station, has claimed damages for defamation and negligence totalling €88,000.
In the case of Ryanair v Goss  IECA 328, the Court of Appeal has refused to order the defendant in a libel action to provide further particulars of justification. There was a report of the case on the Irish Legal News website.
This is an article in Lexology asking the question: The “offer to make amends” in defamation cases: No longer a useful tool for defendants? by Charles Waterhouse and Darryl Broderick.
Editor of weekly newspaper Il Mumet must pay €5,000 to Labour MP Franco Mercieca after libel proceedings instituted by the former parliamentary secretary.
Mr Justice Toni Abela, who was sworn in this week, still faces four civil libel cases instituted against him when he was editor of the Labour Party’s newspaper KullĦadd.
Magistrate Francesco Depasquale has had to throw both parties out of the courtroom in the Tonio Fenech libel case this week after a heated argument between the two sides.
The Belfast Telegraph has reported that the number of super-injunctions in Northern Ireland has reached its highest level in ten years. It suggests that 6 remain active with one having been granted this year.
Independent Media has been sued for defamation by three journalists and a political commentator after the group published a story claiming they were “propaganda journalists” involved in a campaign of “collusion, misinformation, defamation and sabotage” against the group and its owner, Dr Iqbal Survé.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is suing former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor for defamation following a Facebook post alleging that her department had lost R42bn in one financial year.
Ryan Larson, the man cleared in the Cold Spring killing case, has lost his defamation case against the KARE 11 and the St. Cloud Times.
Former University of Virginia Associate Dean Nicole Eramo has spoken for the first time since winning a defamation claim against Rolling Stone magazine. She has appeared on CBS show This Morning.
Socially Aware has argued that the decision in Kimzey v. Yelp shows that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) “still has teeth.”
Research and Resources
- Personal Data, Privacy and the Internet of Things: The Shifting Locus of Agency and Control, Andy Crabtree and Richard Mortier. University of Nottingham and University of Nottingham.
- Body-Mounted Police Cameras: A Primer on Police Accountability vs. Privacy Howard Law Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2015, Kami Chavis, Wake Forest University Law School
- Image-Based Sexual Abuse (2017) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (Forthcoming), Clare McGlynn, Durham Law School, Durham University
- The Trouble with Using Search Engines as the Primary Vector of Exercising the Right to Be Forgotten  19 Pandora’s Box 83-106, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2016-23, Stuart Hargreaves, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) – Faculty of Law.
- The Ruling of Google Spain Case: ‘The Right to Be Forgotten’ or ‘The Right to Censorship’? Tika Meutia Lubis. Leiden University – Leiden Law School.
- Differing Views of Privacy Rights in the EU and U.S., and the Resulting Challenges to International Banking: An Interview with Joseph Cannataci Business Horizons, Vol. 56, No. 6, 2013. Michelle Frasher and W. Travis Selmier II
- Protection of personal rights in Common law with comparison to the Czech law, Ondřejová Eva
- Resolving Conflicts between Human Rights: The Judge’s Dilemma, Stijn Smet, Routledge
- Defamation update: Are hurt feelings a trivial matter?, The Commercial Bar Association of Victoria, Lexology
- Injunction preventing the publication of Ofsted Report upheld pending judicial review application, Jayne Owens, The Injunctions Blog.
Next Week in the Courts
We have already mentioned the important appeal in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print on 29 and 30 November 2016.
There is another media law case in the Court of Appeal this week. On 29 or 30 November 2016, Patten and King LJJ will hear three appeals in the case of His Highness Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdullah Al Alaoui of Morocco v Elaph Publish Limited. These are appeals against orders of Dingemans J concerning the meaning of the words complained of ( EWHC 1084 (QB)) and relating to amendments to include a claim for breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 ( EWHC 2021 (QB)).
On 30 November 2016 there will be an application in the case of Karpov v Browder.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
CG v Facebook Ireland Limited, heard 4 and 5 April 2016 (Morgan LCJ, Gillen and Weatherup LJJ)(Northern Ireland Court of Appeal).
Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ).
Holyoake & Anor v Candy & Ors heard 4 November 2016 (Warby J).
Shakil-Ur-Rahman v Ary Network Ltd & Anor, heard 31 October to 4 November and 7 November 2016 (Sir David Eady)
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society heard 8 November 2016 (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers, heard 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC).
Optical Express v Associated Newspapers Ltd, heard 16 November 2016 (Nicola Davies J).
This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.