Breach of Privacy

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, enshrined in English law by the Human Rights Act 1998, gives individuals the right to a private and family life. When that right is infringed, it can have devastating consequences for you and your family. 

What is a Breach of Privacy?

A breach of privacy occurs when your private or confidential information is disclosed to a third party, who is not authorised to receive that information.

If your private information is misused in this way, it can cause huge embarrassment and distress and can have a devastating effect upon your life.

Examples of Breach of Privacy claims

Claims for breach of privacy can arise in various different ways. For example:

  • Private photographs or videos of you being published to people against your wishes;
  • A public body such as a GP practice or hospital releasing information about your health or certain medical conditions, which you are entitled to keep private;
  • The publication of stories about you in newspapers or online, which contain private information about you (sometimes private sexual information);
  • The publication of private family information in a public context; and
  • Information which is confidential to you (for example commercially sensitive information relating to your business) being leaked in public.

Private information can be misused if emails are sent to the wrong recipients, or if extra people are copied in to an email wrongly.

Another example would be if photographs which you have taken in your own home or other private space, are misused by someone. This can happen when private images have been shared in a relationship which later breaks down. This can be particularly distressing if members of your family see the private images, either because they are sent to them directly, or because they are widely distributed online. 

Sensitive personal data (such as information relating to your mental or physical health conditions) are subject to very strict rules about processing and storage and if those rules are breached, you can have a powerful claim.

Starting a claim for breach of privacy

If you have been the victim of a breach of your privacy or if your confidential information has been misused, it may be possible to bring a claim for compensation.

You can be awarded damages to compensate you for the breach of your privacy, and your opponent can be made subject to an injunction, to prevent any continued misuse of your private or confidential information.

In some circumstances, the publisher of your private information may claim that it is in the public interest for the information to be disclosed. However, this will depend upon the facts of each individual case.

As with any claims relating to reputation, it is advisable to start proceedings as quickly as possible. The first step is to send your opponent a letter of claim and if the case cannot be resolved by negotiation, then you would need to consider issuing proceedings in the High Court.

If your privacy has been breached or if your confidential information has been misused, contact us today to find out how we can help.

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