Claimants entitled to issue privacy proceedings in the Chancery Division

In the recent case of Mezvinsky & Anor v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2018] EWHC 1261 (CH)
Chief Master Marsh had to decide whether there was a more appropriate division of the High Court in which a privacy claim should be brought.

The defendant had published a series of articles on the Mail Online website which included photographs of the young children of Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton (and who act as litigation friends for their children).  The claimants’ faces were plainly visible in the photographs (they had not been pixelated). The claimants were aged three and one respectively when the particulars of claim were served in November 2017.

The children brought claims for misuse of private information and the defendant’s breach of duty in failing to comply with the data protection principles [under the Data Protection Act 1998]. The claim was issued in the Business & Property List (“B&PL”), Chancery Division, and the defendant applied to transfer the claim to the Media & Communications List (“M&CL”), Queen’s Bench Division.

Chief Master Marsh refused to transfer the claim.  He held that the M&CL is not a formally-designated specialist list and the defendant was wrong to assert that privacy claims did not fall within the scope of the B&PL. He pointed out that, in fact, there is a considerable amount of judicial expertise in privacy claims in the B&PL, not least because of the vast number of phone hacking claims that have been issued against News Group Newspapers Ltd and Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd over the last six years, all of which have been brought in the Chancery Division rather than the Queen’s Bench Division.

Chief Master March held that the claimants’ choice to issue the claim in the B&PL was not “obviously wrong”.  Furthermore, the defendant had not provided any, or any convincing, evidence to show that there is a greater depth of judicial expertise in the M&CL.  Accordingly, there were no good reasons to transfer the claim out of the B&PL and disturb the “legitimate choice” that had been made by the claimants at the point the claim was issued.

 

Click here to find out how Brett Wilson LLP privacy solicitors can help you if your private information has been misused.