Max Moseley Loses European Court of Human Rights Privacy Appeal

By Blackshaw, Ian | The International Sports Law Journal, July-October 2011 | Go to article overview
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Max Moseley Loses European Court of Human Rights Privacy Appeal


Blackshaw, Ian, The International Sports Law Journal


Max Moseley, the former President of the World Motor Sports Governing Body, the FIA (International Automobile Federation), has lost his privacy appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He wanted the Court to require newspapers to warn people before printing stories exposing their private lives.

In 2008, the UK High Court awarded him damages of [pounds sterling]60,000 following a ruling that the News of the World newspaper had invaded his right to privacy by reporting on his rather colourful and lurid sex life.

He argued before the Strasbourg Court that damages were not sufficient compensation because they were awarded ex post facto - in other words, after the details of his private life had been published and the damage to his reputation had already been done. One could not 'un-publish' the story and, therefore, money alone could not restore his reputation!

However, the Court, whilst criticising the conduct of the News of the World, held that, under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, the press were not required to prenotify the subject of the story. The Court said that it had to assess and balance more broadly the right to privacy under article 8 with the right of freedom of expression under article 10 of the Convention. The Court also said that the right to a private life in the UK was already protected by self-regulation of the press through the Press Complaints Commission; access to the civil courts for damages; and, where appropriate, interim injunctions. In the UK, we now have so-called 'super' injunctions, where the very fact that an injunction has been granted is also kept confidential. There has been much criticism recently of these injunctions, mainly on the ground that they are open to the rich and famous, including sports 'stars', especially footballers, and not to the ordinary citizens who cannot afford expensive lawyers to obtain them for them, and, therefore, they have no legal protection whatever!

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