Inforrm: Important privacy hearing begins over image publishing

The potentially important privacy hearing of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany began yesterday at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the publication of photographs by the media. The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog has provided a copy of the second media intervention in the case from the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the International Press Institute and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

In the submission the organisations detail the current protections for privacy and freedom of expression across Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Sweden, as well as touching on New Zealand as a comparison.

They conclude that the court should “focus on the principles adopted by domestic courts in balancing Articles 8 and 10 … while affording a wide margin of appreciation to Council of Europe member states in determining the precise balance between such rights in individual cases”.

In particular, the organisations submit that, unless the weights attributed to the factors taken into account by the national courts in performing this balancing act are manifestly inappropriate and therefore result in a decision which clearly falls outside the member state’s margin of appreciation, the findings of local courts in favour of free expression should be “set aside” only if they are shown to be clearly arbitary or summarily dismissive of the privacy/reputational interests at stake. To do otherwise would be wrong in principle, for the reasons given, and would have severe practical consequences for parties, the Court and the domestic implementation of the Convention through national measures.

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