Von Hannover v. Germany  ECHR 294
Name/Parties: Von Hannover v. Germany
Court: European court of Human Rights
Citation: ECHR 294 (Application no. 59320/00)
The applicant was a member of the royal family of Monaco, a public figure without any connection to the functioning of the state. She had been trying since the early 1990s to prevent the publication of photographs of her private life in the tabloid press. The case concerned three sets of photographs taken in France - later published in Germany - in 1993 and 1997, showing day to day activities, holidays and leisure time, all taken in public places. The injunction sought in Germany was denied on that basis in all three sets of proceedings, the test being whether or not she was in 'a secluded place'. An application was duly made to the European Court of Human Rights alleging breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The core of this case was the interaction between Articles 8 and 10 (the right to free speech). The applicant alleged that the state had failed to protect her right to respect for her private life by striking an inappropriate balance between that interest and freedom of the press.
The Court reiterated that Article 10 covers information and ideas that offend and disturb as well as those not objected to by the society they are broached in. The role of the press was held to be essential in informing and discussing matters of public interest. There must however be limitations placed upon it, especially to protect the rights and reputation of others. They commented that photos taken for the tabloid press often indicate a climate of continual harassment. As such the general principle is that the photos must be justified as contributing to a debate of general interest on matters of public concern.
The Court held that the information published contributed to no public debate of general interest and was merely an intrusion into the applicant's private life. The applicant was a private figure in that respect and Article 10 did not guarantee a right to make public details of her goings on. The public could have no legitimate interest in knowing any of the details that the photographs communicated. As a result the test employed by the domestic courts was not sufficient to guarantee the protection required by Article 8.
The application was upheld.
PLANS TO APPEAL
None: final judgement.
URL Link: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=von%20%7C%20hannover%20%7C%20germany&sessionid=69070149&skin=hudoc-en
Author Organisation: IBAHRI