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Court delivers ruling in ‘right to be forgotten’, applying CJEU’s Google Spain case

NT1 & NT2 v Google LLC [2018] EWHC 799 (QB)

Related Member(s):
Catrin Evans QC, Hugh Tomlinson QC, Antony White QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Media and Information Law
Court:

This case concerns “right to be forgotten” or, more accurately, the right to have personal information “delisted” or “deindexed” by the operators of internet search engines (“ISEs”). The claims were made under data protection law and the English law tort of misuse of private information.

The two claimants were businessmen who were convicted of criminal offences many years ago. They complained of search results returned by Google’s ISE, “Search”, that featured links to third-party reports about the claimants’ convictions which they said are inaccurate and/or old, irrelevant and of no public interest, or otherwise an illegitimate interference with their rights.

In the case of NT1, Warby J held that “the delisting claim was not an abuse of the court’s process, as alleged by Google. The inaccuracy complaint was dismissed, as the First Article was a substantially fair and accurate report of legal proceedings held in public. The Second Article was not, but the claimant had failed to prove that the information in the Second Article was inaccurate in any material respect”. Similar conclusions applied to the similar information in the Book Extract. The remainder of the delisting complaint was also dismissed and the claim for misuse of private information failed. Accordingly, the claims for compensation or damages did not arise.

As per NT2, the Court similarly held that the delisting claim was not an abuse of the court’s process, as alleged by Google. The inaccuracy complaint was upheld an appropriate delisting order will be made, its terms to be the subject of argument. Further, the remainder of the delisting claim also succeeded and an appropriate order will be made, subject to argument. The claim for misuse of private information succeeded but as Google had taken reasonable care, the claimant was not entitled to compensation or damages.

Catrin Evans QC, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Antony White QC were involved in this case.