Where There Is an Invasion of Privacy by the Media, an Action in Tort is Really only an Option for the Wealthy - Essay Example

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Over the years, application of tort law relating to privacy in the UK has proved to be confusing despite the law being fairly simple. Recent events have added credence to this view;…
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Where There Is an Invasion of Privacy by the Media, an Action in Tort is Really only an Option for the Wealthy
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Download file to see previous pages Recent events have added credence to this view; the law and its application by the judiciary has come under intense criticism from the media, celebrities, and politicians. In general terms, tort refers to a civil wrong because it is committed by a person against the other (the term “person” includes legal entities like companies). The law of tort and especially that relating to privacy are founded on the belief that each person has certain interests that have to be protected by law.1 These interests can be protected by the court in two main ways; issuing an injunction to the defendant to refrain from interfering with the interest of the complainant, and awarding damages for infringement of protected interest of a particular individual. Recent years have witnessed increasing number of people getting concerned about their reputation and privacy. Therefore, in an event that the reputation and privacy is infringed by writing or untrue speech, damages may be sought in the court of law by the aggrieved party.2 In English law, privacy law considers that individual has a right to informational privacy and the situations in which such right should be protected or disregarded. Specifically, this right to informational privacy protects individuals’ private information against unauthorized disclosure or misuse.3 The media has been the biggest “culprit” of violating the right to privacy of people in the UK. Most cases relating to privacy are usually brought against media companies.4 Recent years have witnessed a rising number of people especially the celebrities and the politicians bringing privacy cases against media companies, as well as seeking injunction from the court to refrain media from interfering with their informational privacy.5 These individuals seek informational privacy on a number of issues such as: communication privacy, health privacy, relationship privacy, and financial privacy among others. Previous and present cases relating to privacy show that most people who opt for tort are the wealthy and there is very small evidence of “non-wealthy” opting for an action in tort in regard to privacy. There has been a raging debated on whether, indeed, where there is an invasion of privacy by the media, an action in tort is really only an option for the wealthy. This debate has been fueled by the increasing evidence of the wealthy opting for action in tort while negligible number of “non-wealthy” opting for the same.6 This paper will discuss this debate with the view of finding out whether it is true or not. Privacy Law in the UK It is important to note that English law has no specific tort to defend privacy. As a result, the courts have had to confront this situation and balance the individual’s privacy rights against the right to freedom of speech which is often “attacked” in most cases relating to privacy.7 The development of protection of human privacy in English Common law has been helped greatly by the UK Human Rights Act 1998 that was incorporated through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Particularly, Article 8 of the Convention helped in guaranteeing the right to privacy into the English Common law.8 That notwithstanding though, English Common law does not have a freestanding tort of privacy. In the absence of such tort law, a variety of torts linked to inflicting harm to a person intentionally, principles of administrative law relating to proper use of police powers, and equitable remedy of confidence have been used to resolve cases relating to infringement of privacy of individuals.9 As reaffirmed in the case of Wainwright v Home Office, the application of multiple remedies and emphatic and frequent assertions by the judiciary, shows that there is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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