Essay on Developments in the Law Surrounding an Action for Breach of Confidence

Essay on Developments in the Law Surrounding an Action for Breach of Confidence

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Developments in the Law Surrounding an Action for Breach of Confidence

In this essay I will argue that the developments in the law
surrounding an action for breach of confidence have not drawn an
equitable and acceptable balance between the privacy of, and free
expression about, public figures due to the evolutionary nature of
common law. Furthermore, due to the unwillingness of the judiciary to
address an independent tort of privacy it may well be time for the
Government to legislate. I will address this by considering the
development of the laws of breach of confidence prior to the
introduction of the Human Rights Act in 2000, and by looking at how
they have addressed the balance between free expression and a right to
privacy in its aftermath.

Protection of Privacy through Breach of Confidence.

The existence of a right to privacy in English law has been a source
of judicial and academic debate for the past two centuries. The law of
breach of confidence has traditionally been cited as the foremost
guardian of any right to privacy. In Prince Albert v. Strange[1],
breach of confidence was applied successfully with Sir Knight Bruce
V.-C. referring to a "sordid spying into privacy of domestic life".[2]
It was this case that formed the centrepiece of Warren and Brandeis'
affirmation of a right to privacy, which led to the development of the
law in America[3], yet in England there was still a preference to deal
with potential privacy cases through existing rights of action.

The law of breach of confidence was widened over the course of the 20th
Century to the point where Lord Keith stated in Attorney-General v.
Guardian Newspaper...

... middle of paper ...

... Greenwood, W, ' McNae's Essential Law For
Journalists' (17th ed, LexisNexis UK) Page 433

[15] ibid.

[16] Douglas v. Hello!Ltd (No.1) Q.B. 967 (CA)

[17] ibid.

[18] [2001] 2 W.L.R. 1038 (Fam Div)

[19] ibid.

[20] [2002] EWCA Civ 337; [2003] Q.B. 195 (CA)

[21] ibid.

[22] Theakston v. MGN Ltd. QBD [2002] EWHC 137 (QB)

[23] [2001] E.M.L.R. 41

[24] Unreported 2001 WL 676718


[26] [2002] EWHC 499; [2002]E.M.L.R. 30.

[27] [2002 EWCA Civ 1373; [2003] 2.W.L.R.80.

[28] [2003] EWHC 786; (2003) 153 N.L.J. (Ch D)

[29] (44647/98) [2003] E.M.L.R. 15 (ECHR)

[30] [2001] EWCA Civ 2081; [2002] Q.B. 1334 (CA)

[31] R.Singh "Privacy Postponed" [2003] E.H.R.L.R. 12

[32] Home Office v. Wainwright [2001] EWCA Civ 2081; [2002] Q.B. 1334

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