Guy Vassall-Adams is a leading practitioner in Media and Information Law. He has appeared in many high profile cases across all areas of media law including privacy, data protection, defamation, open justice, copyright, contempt of court and freedom of information. He has substantial experience of group litigation, having acted for NGN in the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation and most recently in NGN’s own Voicemail Interception Compensation Scheme. He is currently acting for the GMB claimants in the Construction Industry Vetting Information Group Litigation, relating to blacklisting in the construction industry.
Guy is regularly called upon by media organisations to represent them in their most difficult and sensitive open justice cases. Recent cases include challenging an application for private hearings by members of the Saudi Royal Family (Re FI Call Ltd), challenging applications for anonymity sought by bankers implicated in LIBOR rigging allegations (Graiseley Properties v Barclays Bank) and by a prisoner who was convicted of three child murders (R(M) v Parole Board). Guy also acted for Guardian News and Media Ltd in the key recent case on access to court documents (NAB v Serco Ltd). Guy is author of the leading guide, “Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts” (2015), published by the Judicial College. Guy also has extensive experience of reporting restrictions in the Court of Protection and the Family Division and recently represented billionaire Chris Hohn in the publicity issues surrounding his divorce (Cooper-Hohn v Hohn).
Guy has acted in a number of high profile data protection cases. Guy acted for Google Inc. in the claim brought by Max Mosley relating to images on the Google Search Engine and also represented Google Inc. in the claim brought by Swiss banker Daniel Hegglin (both cases settled before trial). Guy has a longstanding interest in the law governing internet intermediaries and acted in the first UK libel case which recognised the availability of the hosting defence under the E-Commerce Regulations (Karim v Newsquest). He also intervened on behalf of Consumer Focus in the judicial review challenging aspects of the Digital Economy Act 2010.
Guy has appeared as junior counsel in a number of Supreme Court and House of Lords cases in the fields of media law and human rights: R(Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice (Article 8 challenge to the criminal prohibition of assisted suicide), Al Rawi v Security Service (whether there is a power at common law to hold closed hearings), A v Security Service (Investigatory Powers Tribunal: Jurisdiction) (judicial review by former Security Services officer seeking permission to publish a book), Van Colle v Chief Constable of Hertfordshire (whether the police have a duty of care in negligence to prevent a foreseeable crime) and Jameel v Wall Street Journal Europe (the defamation case which strengthened the “responsible journalism on a matter of public interest” defence).
Guy is regularly asked to provide strategic advice on topical media law issues, including in relation to proposed legislative changes that are likely to affect the media. Guy has acted as an expert on freedom of expression for the Council of Europe in Russia, Serbia, Kosovo and Armenia.
Guy worked at Doughty Street Chambers before joining Matrix in November 2013. Before coming to the Bar he worked as a television journalist and as a humanitarian affairs officer for the United Nations, where he was one of the founders of the humanitarian news service IRIN. Guy’s background in humanitarian work is reflected in the significant amount of pro bono work he undertakes for non-governmental organisations.
Guy accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.
Comments from Chambers & Partners: “He’s extremely thorough, with a great understanding of how law and practice fit together” (2016); “He often does applications for groups of media organisations, and is pleasant to be up against. He knows his stuff, gets on with the job and does it well” (2015); “a feisty performer with a great brain” (2013); “exceptionally helpful and responsive – he works collaboratively and offers impressive, creative solutions” (2010).
Comments from The Legal 500: “A safe pair of hands, and good with clients” (2016); “a clear and effective advocate, with a particularly good grasp of Article 10 freedom of expression rights” (2015); “praised for his insight, organisation and ability to work like an absolute Trojan” (2013).