Privacy and Loyalty

Privacy and Loyalty

Privacy and Loyalty

Privacy and Loyalty

Synopsis

Fourth in the popular and well-regarded SPTL seminar series, this is an important book which explores the concepts of privacy and loyalty in the law of obligations. Privacy and fiduciary obligations are two very topical subjects, and it is fitting that they are examined here by contributors who are among the best known writers in this field. The contributions include Privacy as a Constitutional Right and Value by Eric Barendt; Comparative Rights of Privacy of Public Figures by Basil Markesinis and Nico Nolte; and Constructive Fiduciaries? by Lionel Smith. These essays combine practical and academic perspectives which usefully highlight contemporary trends in the law of obligations. In addition to the essays, there is an extended Editor's Introduction by Peter Birks, a recognized expert in this field. This book will be a very valuable addition to the libraries of all practitioners and teachers involved in this area of law.

Excerpt

Isolation and community are concurrent facts of the human condition. We need our own space, geographical and moral. But we also depend on others and need to be able to rely on them. On occasion we even need to know that others will put our interests before their own. It is the business of the law to protect essential interests and to do so effectively. Social morality has lost its cohesive unity and, with it, its power to protect and restrain. Life may in general be the better without its intrusive tyranny. However, the consequence is that the law has to accept a more direct responsibility. the moral space which we all need in order to fulfil ourselves as individuals, and which is, in addition, logically necessitated by the acceptance of pluralism, is guaranteed to the extent, and only to the extent, that privacy is protected by the law. Similarly, to the extent that loyalty is insisted upon by the law, and only to that extent, can we assure ourselves that others will do what is good for us even at the cost of self-denial, foregoing their own desires in order to promote our interests.

The law has not been doing particularly well in relation to either privacy or loyalty. in relation to the former its infirmity of purpose is to a degree understandable. the problems are great. Most obviously, privacy conflicts with freedom of speech and information. Further, and no less obvious, the debate as to the proper compromise between the conflicting freedoms is distorted by the vested interests of the media, at once the champions and mercenaries of one side. Against media opposition the right to privacy has made little headway. Direct legislative progress may be permanently impeded by the politicians' fear of the press. Yet the underlying forces for the legal protection of privacy are probably irresistible, though it goes without saying that when it does assert itself it will be rather closely limited so as not to trench unduly on other fundamental freedoms. in the same way, loyalty cannot be too liberally insisted upon. Altruism in nature remains an exception. It poses a puzzle, being in prima facie conflict with the survival of the fittest and most selfish. in human society the market economy similarly works by and large through individuals' relentless pursuit of their own interests. Hence the circumstances which call for obligatory self-sacrifice in the interest of another must necessarily be out of the ordinary and confined within a somewhat narrow compass.

In each of the two subjects of this book the drawing of these difficult boundary lines has resulted in a story of frustration and failure. But the character of the one story has been very different from the other. Suppose an extreme case. a celebrity is pregnant and goes into labour. Journalists . . .

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