Protecting Privacy: The Clifford Chance Lectures - Vol. 4

By Basil S. Markesinis | Go to book overview

7
Privacy and the Media: The Impact of the Human Rights Bill

Rabinder Singh1


INTRODUCTION

It is trite that there is no right to privacy as such in English law. In Kaye v Robertson Leggatt LJ said that this right 'has so long been disregarded here that it can be recognised now only by the legisla­ture.'2 The Government have confirmed that they do not intend to introduce a statutory right of privacy as such. However, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is currently being incorporated into domestic law by the Human Rights Bill,3 contains a right to 'respect for private life'.4 This essay will consider whether, and to what extent, this will lead to a right to privacy in English law. In particular it will address the question whether incorporation of the ECHR will create a right to privacy as against the media.

Since Kaye the debate about whether there is a right to privacy in the English common law (including rules of equity for this purpose)

____________________
1
I would like to thank Murray Hunt for his comments on an earlier draft of this essay. A version of this paper was given to the 1998 Bar Conference.
2
[ 1991] FSR 62 at 71. See also Glidewell LJ at 66: 'It is well-known that in English law there is no right to privacy, and accordingly there is no right of action for breach of a person's privacy.'
3
References in this essay to the Human Rights Bill are to the Bill as amended by the House of Lords and published on 6 February 1998. At the time of writing, the Bill had been given a Second Reading by the House of Commons on 16 February 1998.
4
Article 8 of the ECHR, which is reproduced in Sched. 1 to the Bill, provides: '1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence, 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.'

-169-

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