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;
  • The publication of private emails, text messages or letters you have written to someone else; or
  • 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. 

If someone threatens to publish your private information, this can be a criminal offence and ought to be reported to the police. 

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.

Latest Breach of Privacy News
  • A suspect in a criminal case has a right to privacy, right up to the point where they are arrested. Before that, it would be a breach to report on the investigation.
  • A recent case has found that a doorbell fitted with a camera has breached the privacy of the owner of a neighbouring property. Are you worried that your neighbours are filming you?
  • Are you at risk of being sued for libel or breach of privacy, as a result of your social media posts? A new campaign encourages consideration of these issues.
  • A Judge confirms that individuals can expect their private correspondence to be protected. This will apply to letters, emails, texts and all other forms of written communication.
  • The BBC will not be appealing the case it lost against Sir Cliff Richard, but what will the implications be for the general public?
  • Legal costs reach £900k before a claim has even got off the ground. How is this possible?