Content Regulation / Censorship, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention, Defamation / Reputation
Hegglin v. Google
In Progress Mixed Outcome
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Plaintiffs in this case were granted a temporary injunction, prohibiting the newspapers from publishing articles about the plaintiffs that potentially infringed on their privacy rights. In the past two and a half years, this is only the third time the U.K. Court has granted an injunction against the media to prohibit them from publishing information. See, Tipping the balance, when is it in the public interest to take a look at a “private” relationship?
Plaintiffs bring this case seeking an injunction to prohibit the defendant from publishing private information about the Plaintiffs. The defendant in this case is the publisher of the Daily Mail.
At the request of the plaintiffs (and pursuant to no objection from the defendant), the Court heard the arguments in private and the Court granted a temporary injunction until May 6, 2015, for the Trial.
The two plaintiffs are involved in a relationship they have endeavored to keep secret as the first plaintiff is married but separated and is associated with an institution that the second plaintiff holds a senior position in. Their relationship is the subject of the information that the defendant wishes to publish.
The Court found that it could issue an injunction because, under the Human Rights Act, to receive a temporary injunction, the moving party must show that they are more likely than not to succeed on the merits at trial.
The plaintiffs claim a breach of confidence and misuse of private information. A breach of confidence claim requires a showing “that the information in question is confidential in character, that the defendant owes the claimants a duty of confidence in respect of it, and that the use or disclosure that is threatened would represent a breach of that duty.” Para. 9.
To establish a misuse of private information claim the plaintiff must show, “they enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the information in question; if that is established the court must engage in close scrutiny of the specific rights in play before it and determine whether, on the one hand, the privacy rights of the claimants should yield to the rights of the defendant and others to the free flow of information or, on the other hand, the claimants’ rights should prevail over those of others.” Para. 9.
The Court found that it was likely that the plaintiffs could succeed on one or both of these claims at trial and therefore granted the temporary injunction. As support for this the Court found that not many people knew about the plaintiffs’ relationship and therefore at the time of the decision the relationship was confidential and private.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This case provides a mixed outcome by protecting the privacy rights of the plaintiffs while damaging the freedom of press rights of the defendant. However, this is just a temporary injunction; the publication is prohibited until the next hearing date.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The U.K. is a common law country. The Court’s reasoning here must be followed by lower courts in the same jurisdiction.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.