In the recent case of Ali & Anor v Channel 5 Broadcast Ltd  EWHC 840 (Ch), the Claimants successfully recovered £10,000 each in privacy damages following the broadcast of the television programme “Can’t pay? We’ll take it away”. The broadcast contained footage of the Claimants (a married couple) being evicted from their home, it was viewed by 9.65 million people and Mr Justice Arnold held that it amounted to a misuse of their private information.
Miles Savory, the director of Accident Claims Handlers Ltd, has been convicted of breaching the Data Protection Act 1998 following a prosecution brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) for unlawfully obtaining the name and address of the owner of personalised number plates that he was seeking to purchase.
Last month PR guru Max Clifford was ordered to pay the former Royal Butler Paul Burrell £5,000 compensation for the unauthorised disclosure of private information contained within a letter Mr Burrell had sent him. The judgment on liability and quantum (Burrell v Clifford  EWHC 294 (Ch)) can be found here, although Mr Justice Mann’s earlier decision dismissing Mr Clifford’s strike out application on limitation and triviality grounds (Burrell v Clifford  EWHC 2001 (Ch)) is arguably of wider importance. This was discussed on our blog last year.
Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, the country’s most senior civil judge, has expressed his concern over the effect of large year’s increase in court fees. In March 2015 fees for claims valued at £10,000 or above began attracting a court fee of 5%. This resulted in some fees increasing by nearly 600%.
In a recent case management conference in the ongoing Yeo v Times Newspapers libel litigation (also see our blog ‘The End of Juries in Libel Trials?’), Mr Justice Warby QC gave a written Judgment ( EWHC 209 (QB)), which provides some guidance on the issue of costs budgeting in libel cases. Warby J noted that ‘although costs budgeting has now been in place for over 20 months, the detailed implementation of the scheme is still relatively untested’. The guidance can be summarised as follows: –
Parties to civil litigation should be under no illusion of the court’s eagerness for them to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before taking their cases all the way to trial. Since the implementation of the Civil Procedure Rules, there has been a growing emphasis on ADR as a means of reducing the burden on the courts and nipping costly litigation in the bud. In Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust EWCA Civ 576, the Court of Appeal prescribed six criteria for determining whether a refusal to mediate would be taken into account in any costs decision. Those non-exclusive factors include:
The Ministry of Justice has published details of its proposals for a cost protection regime in defamation and privacy cases. The proposals follow Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendation that an adequate costs protection system be put in place for defamation and privacy cases (and harassment cases involving the media) once the cost of ‘after the event insurance’ policies cease to be recoverable from the losing party (which is now the norm in most other cases).