The future of civil law

Throughout this assignment I will critically analyse the above case with the objective to establish what value it holds in law today and whether the judgments made in Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers will be applied in the future of civil law. The Campbell case concerns the appellant, Naomi Campbell, who has filed for compensation and damages for breach of confidence and privacy under the Data Protection Act 1998. The plaintiff in this case is the Mirror Group Newspapers, who have appealed against the award of damages for the mentioned offences.

When Miss Campbell was publicly asked about her addiction to alcohol and drugs, she denied ever-using illegal substances, with this statement in mind the plaintiff's then gathered and published both written and photographic evidence of Campbell leaving a well-know narcotics anonymous clinic. Although the appellant, in light of this evidence, made a statement admitting her drug problem and assuring fans and the press that she was on the road to recovery, Miss Campbell argued that the information printed in the paper and the intrusion into her private life caused a breach of confidence and was in no way of public interest.

In the original hearing, 'modest' damages were awarded to Campbell ruling that there was "no overriding public interest in the publication. "1 I will now go on to discuss the findings of both the first hearing of 2002 and the 2004 Court of Appeal hearing to assist with my appraisal of the named case. Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers [2002] At the original hearing of the Campbell case in 2002, Judge Moorland stated that: 'In order for Miss Campbell to establish her claim in breach of confidentiality, she must first establish three matters. 

The first point that had to be proved was that the details published by the mirror group had the 'necessary quality of confidence about them,' the second was that the details were, 'imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence,' and the third, final point, was that the publication of the details was to Campbell's detriment. The judge, applying two tests from the case of Australian Broadcasting Corp. v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd3 and A v B4, held, that the appellant had successfully established the three requirements of her case and so should be entitled to damages.

It seems that the information gathered by the journalists was clearly confidential and the decision to publish such information was done so knowingly by the plaintiff. I doubt very much that even though the Mirror Group knew that there was a duty of confidentiality to Miss Campbell, they would've thought long and hard about the detrimental effect that their actions would have on the appellant, thus, leading to the very reasonable judgment of Judge Moorland. Looking at this early judgment it seems that some important issues have arisen that also overlap with the 2004 appeal case.

These points are those of public interest, 'reasonable expectations' (of privacy and confidentiality) and also it seems that the case of A v B5 is a huge influence in the decision making process of this case, and of course, I will now discuss these issues further. Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers [2004] In the opening of the 2004 appeal judgment by Lord Nicholls and Lord Hoffman, it was stated that a duty of confidence would only arise if the person subject to the duty were in a situation where they: "knew or ought to know that the other person could reasonably expect their privacy to be protected6".

Already we see a similarity in findings and the issue of reasonable expectation arising. The important case that was once again cited was that of A v B7, this particular case demonstrates a significant development within civil law as it provides a set of guidelines for judges to follow in reaching a decision on breach of confidentiality. These guidelines expressed that it was necessary to consider that any interference with the freedom of the press had to be justified, regardless of whether the publication of the mentioned information was in the public's interest.

In addition, the protection of any duty of confidence relied on the relationship between the plaintiff and appellant at the time of the actual breach and that the courts should not assess the balance between the interests. Before this case, it was thought that there was too many citations and referencing in establishing a judgment in this area of law. The new guidelines set out in this case shifted attention away from technical aspects of law in favour on balancing facts. This of course was a turning point, as in other civil matters, such as negligence, the balance of 'interests' is enforced.

Another factor in the Campbell case is the photographs that were taken of the appellant coming out of a rehab clinic, with regards to these photos the issue of the actual taking of the photos is not the dispute, it is in fact the publishing of such photos coupled with captions that could've been portrayed as a breach of confidentiality. Analysing the case from the side of the Mirror Group, it is apparent that there is an issue of freedom of the press; this right in turn is also very important and relevant. A case that was cited in favour of the press' rights was that of Douglas v Hello! Ltd8.

In this case, it was held that it was necessary for the court to weigh the injustice likely to be caused to Hello! if Douglas failed to bring forward an injunction against them as there would be great difficulty in calculating the amount of damages to be rewarded. Judgments In reading and analysing both Lord Hoffman and Lord Nicholls' judgments, it became clear that in their view the information and photos printed by the Mirror Group had not amounted to private information and therefore they dismissed the appeal. I was shocked when reading these statements, as they were not very sympathetic to Miss Campbell or her situation.

The remaining Judges, Lord Hope, Baroness Hale and Lord Carswell on the other hand, allowed the appeal and commended the original decision. These statements were given authority as they stated, "despite the weight that must be given to the freedom of the press, there was in fact an infringement of Campbell's right to privacy that cannot be justified. 9" Focussing on Baroness Hale's judgment, she seems to have taken a more descriptive and analytical approach in breaking down key words and phrases in order to reach her ruling.

Lord Hope managed to strike a balance between the two parties but favoured Campbell almost from the very beginning and Lord Carswell gave a much shorter statement, which seemed almost as if he was basing his findings on the other judgments. As we can see, the outcome of the appeal was in favour of Miss Campbell due to a majority ruling, the Mirror Group was indeed found to have breached Campbell's right to privacy and confidentiality and damages were awarded. Conclusion In my opinion, I believe that the outcome was just and reasonable.

I managed to strike a balance between the parties and favoured Campbell but although I appraised and understood the rights on the plaintiff's side, for me, the appellant had a much stronger argument. It is interesting to see such diverse findings within a case, and I think that, because the case was so high profile this is what led to such an in depth hearing. This case has already been applied in other cases and they show just how useful the 2004 decision still is, for example, the case of Mersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd10 and HRH Prince of Wales v Assoc. Newspapers Ltd11 that both upheld the decision in Campbell and used the balance test.

With regards to the law today this case could prove to be as important as A v B12, the issue of breach of privacy and confidentiality for celebrities is of great importance in society today and is an ever increasing problem within civil and criminal law. On the news recently, it has been decided by the Lord Chancellor to test out filming high profile trials in both civil and criminal circumstances as in the US, this applies to celebrity trials as well. This shows how far we will go to intrude into the private lives of others, the rulings that may be clear from the Campbell case today may be overruled and demolished within a few years.