Media and Information Law
Media and Information law is undergoing a period of rapid and wide-ranging change. The processing and publication of information is covered by a complex network of statutory and common law restrictions and remedies, from defamation to data protection, from breach of confidence to freedom of information. The Matrix Media and Information Group is able to provide expertise across the entire area.
The law of defamation is slowly being transformed by the increasing sensitivity of the courts to the need to protect freedom of expression. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and human rights cases from Europe and the Commonwealth, have had an important influence in the development of domestic law. They have been taken into account in a range of cases, including in restricting damages awards in libel cases, in preventing public authorities from bringing libel actions, and in defining the limits of a ‘public interest’ privilege for the media.
The balance between rights of privacy and freedom of expression comes before domestic, European and international courts in a new context. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights has given impetus to the development of a ‘right of privacy’. The law of breach of confidence has absorbed Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, producing a new action for ‘misuse of private information’. At the same time, the media has been adversely affected by the development of statutory rights for individuals: for example, personal data has been given greater legal protection under the Data Protection Act 1998 and remedies provided by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 have been used against the media.
Members of Matrix specialising in Data Protection advise public authorities, companies, media organisations and private individuals on their rights and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act and under the Freedom of Information Act where requests are made for personal data held by public authorities. Recent data protection cases include Corporate Officer of House of Commons v Information Commissioner  3 All ER 403 (the MP’s Expenses case).
For more information on our international media and information law work, please visit our sister site, Matrix International.