Monetary remedies for breach of confidence in privacy cases

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In Campbell v MGN Ltd, the House of Lords endorsed an expansive interpretation of the breach of confidence action to protect privacy interests. The scope and content of this transformed cause of action have already been subject to considerable judicial consideration and academic discussion. This paper focuses on the remedial consequences of privacy breaches. It undertakes an analysis of the principles which govern awards for pecuniary and non-pecuniary loss, the availability of gain-based relief, in particular an account of profits, and exemplary damages. Even in its traditional scope, the monetary remedies for breach of confidence raise complex issues, mainly resulting from the fact that this doctrine draws on multiple jurisdictional sources such as equity, contract and property law. The difficulties of determining the appropriate remedial principles are now compounded by the fact that English law also aims to integrate its obligation to protect the right to privacy under Art 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 into the conceptual framework of the breach of confidence action. The analysis provided in this paper supports the contention that not only the scope of the cause of action but also important remedial issues are likely to remain in doubt until the wrong of ‘misuse of private information’ is freed from the constraints of the traditional action for breach of confidence. A separate tort would be able to deal more coherently and comprehensively with all wrongs commonly regarded as privacy breaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-464
Number of pages35
JournalLegal Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

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