The Great Debate UK
–By Oliver Smith, Media Lawyer at Keystone Law. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Whilst suing magazines after publication may look like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, in seeking an injunction against Closer, The Duchess of Cambridge may be taking the view that she wants to make the publication process as expensive as possible in terms of legal costs and damages in order to deprive the magazines of their profit incentive in the future. However this is unlikely to work in countries where the profits can vastly exceed any damages, such as France.
The photographs of The Duchess of Cambridge topless on holiday in France published by French magazine Closer were taken from a public road using a very long lens. The Duchess is now seeking an injunction against Closer to prevent further publication in France (and to have unsold copies taken off the shelves), damages and a criminal prosecution of the photographer who took the pictures. The photographs have since been published in the Republic of Ireland by the Irish Daily Star and in Italian magazine Chi.
No UK publication has yet announced its intention to publish the photographs. The Duchess could however still seek an injunction in the UK to prevent publication and serve it on all the major UK newspapers and magazines. There is no “privacy law” in the UK as such but the courts have developed the law of confidence to comply with the need to incorporate into UK law a right to family and private life under the Human Rights Act 1998.