Feb 1, 2017

Data Protection Act as a fall back in defamation claims?

The threshold for bringing a defamation claim in the UK recently changed meaning that in order to be defamatory a statement must have caused or be likely to cause "serious harm" to a claimant. However, a Court of Appeal decision has confirmed that there may be an alternative route of redress for claimants where the problem is that information or data (for example a news article or report) involves unfair and inaccurate data processing under the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Court of Appeal judgment can be read here. It confirms that a claim under the Data Protection act can be linked with a defamation claim in appropriate circumstances and reminds us, to quote the Court of Appeal judgment, that "the relevant provisions of the DPA include the aim of protection from being subjected unfairly and unlawfully to distress". In the present case, the material concerned was an article disloyalty and deviousness on the part of the claimant, but it was not clear that the material would be found to cause serious harm, and thus be defamatory.

The advantage of an alternative claim under the DPA would be that should information or material be found be a court not to be defamatory, a claimant may be able to fall back on the DPA where material could be considered inaccurate or not fairly and lawfully processed.

If you have any questions on the above please do not hesitate to contact McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Defamation, News

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