Privacy: Axel Springer v Germany and Von Hannover v Germany (No.2).

Two victories for the press in the European Court of Human Rights in privacy cases Axel Springer v Germany (App No 39954/08)  and Von Hannover v Germany (No.2) (App Nos. 40660/08 ; 60641/08) .

The first privacy case involved the publication of two articles about a well known tv actor,the paper published an article revealing the actor had been convicted of unlawful possession of drugs. An injunction was granted against the newspaper in the German Courts.

The newspaper claimed a violation of its rights to freedom of expression under Article 10

The Grand Chamber found against the German Government.

The court looked at six factors

  • whether the sanction imposed by the court had been justified
  • the contribution of the article to the general debate
  • how famous the actor was
  • his prior conduct in relation to the media
  • the method of obtaining the information
  • the content form and consequences of the articles and the severity of the sanctions.

The court felt there was a degree of public interest in the actor he was well known and had sought the limelight. The information had been disclosed by the Police.The publishing had not had a serious effect on the actor and the sanctions although not severe were capable of having a chilling effect.

The second case involved the publication of photos of Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband walking whist on a skiing holiday.

The Grand Chamber found that the courts had carefully balanced the right of the publishers freedom of expression against the Princess right to a private life.

The court had looked at whether the photos had contributed to the general debate as to the health of Prince Rainer and the circumstances of the photos and found the court had not failed to comply with Article 8.

With recent decisions the tide appears to have turned in favour of the press.


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