Misuse of private information and breach of confidence
In AVB v TDD  EWHC 1442 (QB) the High Court granted an injunction but declined to award damages as to a solicitor’s claims against an escort for misuse of private information and breach of confidence, harassment,breach of contract.
AVB had been a Solicitor and a partner in a firm in London but was now retired. TDD was an escort. She met AVB after he answered an advertisement by an escort agency. She had arrived in this country from China as a 18yr old student, at 20yrs she married another student, which failed after 3 years and then she enrolled in a reputable college to study law, turning to escort work to finance her life.
She asked AVB during their 14 month relationship to help her with her studies and for legal/career advice and/or representation whenever this was needed by her. He actively encouraged her from the outset of their relationship. He also introduced her to other men, a couple of friends of his, including a QC.
During their relationship AVB confided in her about his previous sexual relationships which included a liaison with a woman he had worked with and women in Brazil, in particular a court case in Brazil involving one of those women.
During arguments between them she sent e-mails and Facebook messages to his work colleagues and daughter. TDD sent emails and Facebook messages containing information she had obtained from him or from his laptop or memory stick about his ex-wife and children and other relationships. She also disclosed information relating to his relationship with her and her claims that he was not paying her or keeping his promises to her.
AVB won an injunction against TDD to keep her from revealing aspects of his personal life. He sought an order restraining her from giving out any information relating to his ex-wife, they divorced in 2010, his children and sexual, personal, professional relationships in his life.
The issues in the case were:
(i) Whether her conduct had amounted to a course of conduct which amounted to harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and whether his conduct had amounted to such a course of conduct; and
(ii) whether her disclosure of private information had amounted to a misuse of private information and a breach of contract.
The Judge held TDD did not misuse AVB’s private information or breach his confidence by sending messages relating to the fact of their relationship and her claims that he was not paying her or keeping his other promises to her. Their relationship was not conducted entirely in private and he introduced her to a number of his friends and relatives and gave her a professional reference. She was entitled to complain about the way he treated her even though a prostitute.
AVB did have an expectation of privacy as to information disclosed about his ex-wife and children and other women, this information had been disclosed to TDD in confidence.
The judge dismissed AVB’s claims of harassment and found that TDD’s conduct was entirely a reaction to AVB’s abuse.
There was a misuse of private information/breach of confidence as to those disclosures. The judge declined to award AVB any damages. Even though AVB experienced some embarrassment he suffered no or no significant distress, and took pleasure in provoking TDD’s anger.
TDD had acted in breach of her duty of confidentiality to AVB when she disclosed information relating to third parties which AVB had disclosed.
AVB was entitled to an order restraining TDD from further disclosing any of the confidential or private information already disclosed as to his wife and his children, or to the sexual or financial information relating to individuals he had a relationship, but he was not entitled to an order restraining publication of any of the other information on which she based her complaints against himself about his conduct towards her.
TDD had claimed harassment against AVB which was upheld. Judge Tugendhat said that AVB’s “exploitive and manipulative behaviour” did amount to harassment.
Neither was awarded damages.
“i) AVB is entitled to an order restraining TDD from further disclosing any of the confidential or private information already disclosed by her which relates to AVB’s wife and his children, or to the sexual or financial information relating to individuals with whom he has had a sexual or a personal or professional relationship, but he is not entitled to an order restraining publication of any of the other information on which she based her complaints against himself about his conduct towards her;
ii) AVB is not entitled to an award of damages;
iii) The claim of AVB against TDD in harassment are dismissed;
iv) The counterclaim of TDD against AVB in harassment is upheld, but
v) TDD is not entitled to any damages, nor is there any such risk of AVB repeating his conduct as to justify the grant of an injunction against him.
vi) The parties are invited to agree a form of order, or to make further submissions on a form of order to the extent that it is not agreed.”