The law of privacy is rapidly developing in the UK and complements the law of libel as an important legal protection for the individual. The law has its origins in the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees an individual's right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. Against this, the Convention also guarantees freedom of expression (in a similar way to the US First Amendment).
The balance in the UK is drawn by reviewing whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the disclosure in question. If so, the next question is whether there is nevertheless a public interest in disclosure. This difficult balance has featured in a number of recent cases, notably Max Mosley -v- News Group Newspapers.
We have considerable experience of advising both publishers and individuals in breach of privacy cases, including instances where individuals' personal details have been included incidentally in books and other publications. We can act to obtain remedies including injunctions, undertakings and damages in appropriate cases.
The Data Protection Act provides wide-ranging protection to an individual whose personal information is held electronically or in a filing system. There are particular rules for sensitive personal data. The rules are complex and impose demanding obligations upon any organisation that holds or processes data of this kind, even indirectly. Individuals can make Subject Access Requests for information held about them but the duty of disclosure is subject to a number of legal exemptions. Failure to comply with the Act can lead to an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and to both civil and criminal liability.
We are experienced in advising clients in this complex area, including online organisations and communities for whom the management and processing of personal data is an essential part of their business.
Contact: Steven Maier
"a key player in the publishing sector"
Chambers & Partners