Privacy law—misuse of private information
Produced in partnership with Ben Gallop and Lily Walker-Parr of 5RB and Daniel Bishop

The following Information Law practice note produced in partnership with Ben Gallop and Lily Walker-Parr of 5RB and Daniel Bishop provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Privacy law—misuse of private information
  • A reasonable expectation of privacy in the information concerned
  • Limits on private information
  • Previous relationships, private communications and storage of information
  • Public figures
  • False information
  • Public places
  • Photographs
  • The balancing exercise of competing rights
  • Publisher’s perspective
  • More...

Privacy law—misuse of private information

The tort of misuse of private information is focused on ‘the protection of human autonomy and dignity—the right to control the dissemination of information about one’s private life and the right to the esteem and respect of other people’ (Campbell v MGN).

In most cases, as in Campbell, the only alleged ‘misuse’ is the wrongful publication, or threatened publication, of personal information to the world at large. The defendant is often a media organisation and/or a person seeking to disclose information through the media.

However, a misuse of private information claim may be brought in respect of information disseminated less widely if that would unjustifiably interfere with the claimant’s right to respect for privacy under Article 8 of Part I of Schedule I to the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998). This gives effect to the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

However, the tort is not confined to publication of information, as the so-called ‘phone hacking’ litigation illustrated. In those claims by various individuals against news organisations, part of the alleged wrongdoing was the unlawful accessing of voicemails, and in Gulati v MGN, damages were awarded for the invasion of privacy arising from the (admitted) accessing of voicemails

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