P.S

Just a few little bits more…

As a class we did a video to add into our blogs. I wasn’t in the class that day so my video is underneath… Enjoy!!!

Advertisements

ALERT ALERT ALERT!!! FINAL BLOG!!!

This is the final blog as the term has now ended and I thought I’d give you a bit of me… Sounds a bit weird, but hey ho!

I’ve uploaded a video (at the bottom of this post) which shows you a little bit of my life at the moment, as hectic as it is. When you watch it you’ll gather that I think it’s pretty fun, because I think I said that about three times. I did ask for permission to film and everyone’s consent, apart from one person who you hear me ask. I’m pretty sure I already asked him, but I was just making sure… Also, I apologise now for the changing of the camera angle or whatever it is you want to call it. I suggest just tilting your head!

I was walking around just before one of our shows, which was fantastic as everyone is in costume and in a really hyped up mood. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get the Goose in it, although I have added a cast picture which does have it in it.

This year the school is doing Mother Goose. There are only two teachers involved in this year’s performance, one of those is in the Goose “skin” (musical theatre term for that type of costume) and the rest of the cast and dancers are students. There are three students in the band, two volunteers, including myself and the music teacher.

Around this time of year the panto becomes one of the most important things for me. I act as a teacher’s assistant for the students during show week which is a fantastic opportunity and something I wouldn’t miss for the world.

You may have catch the little bit of law which I put into the video which is about the licensing of the show. As ever the copyright for the show is licenced out and normally the licence for allowing recording of a show costs a lot more. Therefore the school does not usually obtain the licence that includes recording. This was why I couldn’t show you any of the show… Although, having said all of this, the Drama teacher actually wrote the script, so I probably could have asked him for permission to record a small section of the performance. However, this does not cover any musical numbers.

Other bits of law which were not mentioned in this video include media coverage of children. Although this seems slightly odd mentioning it as all of them are at the age where they broadcast every move they make on social media it is still an important part working with children.

There was a report released in 2013 by Ofcom which showed how children and parents have changed how they use or are allowed to use the internet. The internet is something that is so normal in their lives that most of today’s children don’t even bat an eye lid when you mention putting a picture of them on facebook or something along those lines.Most children would state that they are confident using the internet, although not as many would say that they are very confident depending on what they are doing. Interestingly there has been no difference in whether children know how to stay safe online, which is probably one of the most important things to know. Whilst not every person on the internet is a weirdo, creep, pedophile, murder so on and so forth, there is still a risk. the price of instant connectivity. There are other good points highlighted in this report, such as the use of search engines, personal advertising and how much trust children place in the information that they find online.

There are a few guidelines which have been released by UNICEF in an aim to protect children when they are portrayed in media.The guidelines themselves focus a lot on protecting children in the sense of stigmatisation instead of just protecting their identity. Whilst this is all and well, I do feel that sometimes the children themselves negate any protection they may have been given through their excessive use of social media. But hey, kids will be kids, right?

It won’t be until next time, so farewell internet people!

R

One Great Masquerade Ball

How shrouded in mystery are our politicians? How much of a role does the media play in covering up their faces in one great masquerade?

Well that was a bit of a sinister start to things… But, doesn’t it make you wonder what really goes on? The blog I uploaded yesterday (which was meant to be last weeks but I never quite got around to it…) got me thinking about media and politics and how closely intertwined they are.

For instance we could go through the obvious bits like which newspapers are linked to which political parties. We can remember from last week that printed and online news can be biased whereas broadcasters have to be impartial. The Telegraph or the Daily Mail are both Conservative. Other papers tend to move their support a little more regularly and in the last general election Labour lost its support from most of the tabloid newspapers such as the Sun and also lost their support of The Guardian, which became Liberal Democrat. Equally the Lib Dems lost the support of the Independent, who are now probably the most notable unaligned newspaper within the UK currently.

These newspaper endorsements will most likely change in next year’s election and will probably change quite dramatically due to the current political and social climate within the country. One of the reasons I say this is because of the rise of UKIP, whom I hope are only a protest party, though I may be proved wrong next year. Whilst it is duly noted that broadcasters have to try and keep impartial during elections and this task becomes harder and harder as the amount of political parties expand within the UK, some feel (and with whom I am in agreement with) that recently a certain political party has been given more airtime than any other. It could be said that this parties presence would not be as great as it is if they were not so present on the TV. Or equally it could be said that they are only so present because that is what the public demands.

But is it really what the public wants? Ignoring, for a moment, which political party we are talking about, is this constant political bombardment from the media what the public really want? From my own experience, I was recently (for want of a better word) attacked by media coverage over the Rochester and Strood by-election.Although, having said this, I could not tell you any of the candidates names, bar one. I probably couldn’t even tell you the top five! Personally, I’m feeling a little voter fatigue at the moment… and I don’t think I’m the only one.

Participation crisis. Supposedly something that has been lurking in the corners for quite a while. A report brought out in 2004 weighed up the reasons behind why the UK may be facing a potential participation crisis, although it concluded that the word ‘crisis’ was perhaps too strong a word for the time being. The report did show interesting differences between tabloid and broadsheet readers when it came to their trust behind their government and politicians in general. Does this not show that the media, and more specifically the type of media and how the content is portrayed, can increasingly effect our politically views. If lack of trust in our government is to blame for this participation crisis, where does this lack of trust stem from if not from what we find out about these politicians through the media? Perhaps I am being too hard on the newspapers, or perhaps not. It is all down to interpretation in the end. Whilst not British, these articles do give an good read into how much the media influences our political, and other, views.

So is voter dis-engagement or participation crisis the blame of the media? Or is it really just the fault of the politicians who are seemingly out of touch with the electorate? In all fairness it is probably a bit of both and something that is not likely to change for a little while yet.

Until next time,

R

Election Reporting and the Counseling Need Afterwards…

So maybe you won’t need counseling after, or well I hope you won’t! But you might be reporting on councils afterwards (get the really poor play on words there… Sorry I couldn’t resist!).

Elections are the most important times in a democratic society. In the UK, they decided the political and legal landscape for the next five years. Reporting on this is an extremely crucial part, especially in today’s life, of informing the public about the parties and candidates that are in the running.

During election periods all offences concerning libel etc. remain the same. However, there is an offence that rears it’s head… It becomes an offence to make or publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate with the purpose of affecting the voting, under s.106 Representation of the People Act 1983. Therefore, no matter how much you dislike a politician or candidate you can’t go making things up about them. But there is no qualified privilege in relation to candidates’ addresses (cue evil laugh). I may point out here that this offence only covers that which was specifically portrayed as a statement of fact. Consequently, if you are just stating your opinion you should be fine. This section also covers statements which are not classed as defamatory but are damaging to the individual it is aimed at. A good example, taken from this site, is where it is stated that a candidate is homosexual. Whilst this is not defamatory, it could lose the individual votes as personal and moral conduct is heavily criticised during elections. Some of the voters who were considering voting for that candidate may no longer vote for them because, perhaps for religious reasons, they are anti-gay or homophobic. Qualified privilege continues during this period, thus things said in Parliament continue to be covered and will not lead to anyone being sued for defamation.

Interestingly, and something that had never occurred to me before i started looking into this, there is a legal ban on publishing exit polls whilst people are voting. This is covered, again, by the Representation of the People Act 1983, amended by the 2002 Act, s.66A. This is all and well for the reasons of not swaying people’s votes, but what about those people who do postal voting? It begs the question whether it would actually change peoples opinions. I mean, does it change the opinions of those who use postal voting? This I do not know the answer to, but it does bring up an interesting point.

During election periods broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV etc. cannot be biased. You have probably heard the BBC go on about impartiality at some point or other. Here is the most important reason for impartiality: they cannot be biased about political parties and/or candidates. The BBC have and, as far as I am aware, always do publish guidelines for reporting on elections. Another interesting point (I seem to be finding this whole topic quite interesting, but then again I do like politics) is that all parties should have an opportunity to participate in debates and programmes. This point is interesting because, if some of you have been paying attention to the news lately, there has been some backlash aimed at the BBC due to the fact that the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru were not allowed in their election debate programmes in the run up to the elections. Amusingly, UKIP have been allowed air time even though they have only recently gained MPs, unlike all three other parties who have had MPs since the last election and much longer for the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Not that I am suggesting that the BBC have broken the law here, but it is another interesting point to ponder on.

Moving on the other topic for the day… Council meetings. We shall start with a little bit of history for you. On the 5th February 1960 a young politician made her maiden speech in the House of Commons. This maiden speech was not only important because the politician who gave it would go on to be our first female Prime Minister, as well as the longest serving PM of the century, but it was also important (and impressive as maiden speeches aren’t often used like this) because she introduced a bill which later became the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. This Act allowed media and the public into the meetings and more importantly allowed then to make written reports of these meetings. Whilst being legally significant it was also a political blow to the Labour Party who had been holding council meetings in private throughout industrial disputes taking place in the printing industry in the late 1950’s. Now specific reasons must be given if a meeting is to be held in private and a resolution must be made in regard to the exclusion of the public and the press. Within these meetings, defamatory statements are to be covered under qualified privilege unless it can be proved that these statements were made with malice, as per s.1(5) of the Act. The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 has recently been updated and now allows filming, blogging and tweeting within public meetings, such as town and parish councils.

Whilst this is all an well, here is a rather amusing article which describes the experiences of trying to report on council meetings. It doesn’t appear to be as easy as one would hope, but well, isn’t that life?

And the picture is from a concert I recently took my mother too =D Because I’m cool like that. It was to Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, formerly The Beautiful South. I feared I would be the youngest person in the room when we went there, but I wasn’t which is all good. I grew up listening to these two and some of the Housemartins stuff… I’m sure some of the older readers know who I’m talking about!

Until next time,

R

Top Secret!

It may be top secret, but you need to know… (This is where the Bond Theme, or the Mission Impossible one, and we all slink around the house with our hands in gun shapes. Or maybe I do, by myself, that works too.)

We all want to know what is underneath those redacted lines. We all want to know what they don’t want us too. It’s human nature, right?

The government have been playing hide and really don’t try and seek with their documents for over a century now. The first statue being brought out in the 1800’s. However, the most notable has recently celebrated its centenary: The Official Secrets Act 1911. It was brought about due to the global political instability of the time – the build up to WWI. The British government did not want the Kaiser finding out about their dealings; however this Act, which was seemingly meant only for security purposes, seeped over into everyday life through the infamous s.2 of the 1911 Act. S.2 was worded in such a way that anything that an official was not specifically allowed to divulge became an official secret, this covered so many mundane things and thus you can see where the secrecy of our government derived from. Good intentions gone wrong. Sounds like a line from a cheesy Eurovision song.

Between WWI and WWII another two Acts were brought out, however none affected, or I should say amended, s.2 of the 1911 Act. An example of official secrets being used at their best can be seen in the recently released Imitation Game staring Benedict Cumberbatch. It is noted in the film that not even some of the most senior members of government were allowed to know that the Enigma Code had been broken so that the Germans would not find out. It also shows that they had to let some of the attacks through so that it was not obvious that the Code had been broken. These are prime examples of Official Secrets being used for security purposes, what the Official Secrets Acts were supposed to do.

This era of secrecy continued and was exacerbated by the Cold War. KGB spies and and defectors amongst the diplomats only made matters worse. Knowledge was power and it wasn’t for sharing… It can be noted that the use of official secrets within departments outside of security had become exponential, namely in matters that were merely private and not secret. I’ll try my best not to exaggerate… Probably half of the matters that were made secret were of no use to the KGB what so ever. So, was this secretive nature really needed?

It took over 80 years for s.2 to be repealed. The Official Secrets Act 1989 was passed during the Thatcher years and more notably towards the end of the Cold War.1989 saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the end of the USSR with revolutions (on the whole, bar one) which peacefully ended the communist rule. The Act confined criminal sanctions to security and the intelligence, defence, international relations, information obtained in confidence from states or international organisations, information that could be used to incriminate someone and other things such as special investigations and the monitoring of communications. Amusingly, it seems like the Act still covers quite a lot, but that just shows you how much the infamous s.2 had really covered.

It has been commented that an air of openness amongst governments and cabinets has been created. Some say it is due to the European Convention on Human Rights, although this openness can also be seen through the change in rules such as the now thirty year rule, previously fifty years under the Public Records Act 1958, which was amended by the 1967 Act. There is even talk of this rule being brought down to 15 years! Whether this actually happens or not is another matter… Other significant changes include the change of the official lines about MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, which had always been closed in times of peace. However, as we all know now (and probably suspected all along), they are always active and always have been. Perhaps to your dismay… Especially with this latest report released by the CIA concerning the interrogation of terror suspects.

Whilst there are still a lot of secrets about and things we don’t know it is slowly changing. I highly doubt it will ever be as it was, and probably for the best in today’s society of paranoia encased in an online presence of supposed transparency.

Until next time,

R

PS. A lot of this information was taken from this amazing radio programme. Take a look!!!

Who, What, Where, When?

Yes, it’s that time again, another post. Though, you don’t have to look at me with those same sad eyes as the dog in the picture! You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to put up with me for much longer! Oh, and the dog in the picture is my dog and he only looks sad because he is a Cocker Spaniel and that’s what they do; they look sad.

This week is about court reporting. The who, what, where and when inside a court may be confidential. In some cases the media is not allowed to report the names (and other information) and individuals involved in court cases, even though most cases are held in public and you can go and watch the case in court.

For instance, all pre-trial hearings have statutory restrictions set on then in s.8C of the Magistrates Court Act 1980. This restriction lasts until the case is deemed no longer active. Pre-trial hearings can include issues such as summary cases, bail and the transfer of the case to a Crown Court. There are a few things that you can report on: the name of the court, the judges dealing with the case, a summary of the charges, the names, addresses, ages and occupations of the defendants and witnesses and the lawyers involved and the arrangements made as to bail… Unless it is a crime that comes under the remit of the Sexual Offences Act 1992, in which s.1 states that you cannot identify the victims.This would include what is known as jigsaw identification, where it is possible to piece together who they are by the information given.

Youth courts are open to the media, however they are generally closed to the public.This is due to the obvious reason of protecting the minor involved. Whilst the media are allowed in the courtroom they are statutorily obliged not to state anything that may be used to identify the individual, under s.49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. This restriction may be lifted in certain circumstances, this has most recently been seen in the case involving Will Cornick who stabbed and killed his teacher. The judged stated that naming Cornick was in the public interested and should act as a deterrent.

Here raises another question of what should happen to those who turn 18 during or after the court case. In Todd v DPP [2003] All ER (D) 92 it was held that the courts role was not to protect those after they turned 18 as they were no longer a child. This is an interesting point as one would think that they should still be protected as they event took place whilst they were a child and therefore should not effect their adult life. However, it is clear that the court has to draw a line somewhere and they have clearly chosen here as there cut off point.

But what about those ASBO’s (Anti Social Behaviour Orders for those of you who can’t remember)? Can those lovely darlings be named in the matter of public interest? S.49 in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 may apply here, however it is not automatic in relation to civil hearings. Basically any case that does not relate to criminal law may not be automatically covered by this Act. This would apply to the application of the ASBO, as the application procedure falls under civil law. However, if an ASNO is then breached it becomes a criminal case and would be heard in the youth court… A tad confusing, I know! Although s.44 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 which covers the protection of minors within the media concerning civil matters should offer assistance. However, it has not yet been fully enforced and therefore it is possible to name an individual under the age of 18. Usually if a restriction is put in place a journalist can apply against this in the name of public interest. Good old public interest!

So there you have it, a low down on what you can and can’t report on in court. I hope this helps any young budding journalists out there that want to get their teeth into a great case and not get held in contempt of court!

Until next time,

R

Writing the Copyright…

Well done to all those who raised money for Children in Need. Obviously the total is still going up, but as it currently stands it is £32 million. What an amazing figure!!! Also, Band Aid 30??? It’s all going down this weekend!

I bet you’ve thought, probably on more than one occasion, “that’s a great idea, I think I might copyright it”. If you’ve paid any attention at all to anything I’ve blogged about in the past few weeks then you should realise that that statement is wrong. You can’t copyright an idea, if someone stole that idea then it could be breach of confidence, but not an infringement on copyright. Copyright is protecting something that already exists, that has already taken form, such as words on a page, such as a picture or music… But not the idea of it. I think I’ve drilled that point enough now… If I haven’t you can always re-read the paragraph!

In this country, being the UK, we do not have a registration system for copyright, unlike in the USA, for instance. All you really need to do is sign, date and (c) it, although this may be difficult to prove etc. The point behind copyright is to stop the unfair use of your work by others, to protect your work. Copyright forms part of Intellectual Property (IP) Law and thus as part of property law there are certain things you can do with your copyright. You have the ability to buy and sell copyright as well as license it (the equivalent of leasing). There are exclusive (having all the rights) and non-exclusive (having partial rights) licenses.

We are still running off the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 which has been amended and amended and amended some more due to the ever changing technological environment that we currently live in. However, due to all of these amendments things such as the internet are covered within this Act even though it was not around when this Act was made. Probably nearing the end of its rather over amended life it is currently being reviewed with the hope of a new Act being brought about in a couple of years time. A new Act would be ideal as it would bring together all of the amendments into one document, as opposed to continuously having to search to the end to see what the amendment is on a certain section. It would certainly make lawyers lives easier, if not anyone elses.

When dealing with copyright issues the courts have tended to look into the amount of skill and effort that has been put into a certain piece of work. A good example of where the judges may have been a little out of touch with the industry concerned can be seen in Exxon Corp. v Exxon Insurance Consultations International Ltd [1982]. The issue here was over the name, as you can see both companies had the same name. The Court of Appeal sort to look at the amount of effort and skill that was used in selecting a name. It was held that there is typically no copyright in the selection of a name. You may think this a little odd considering the amount of money publicists are paid, the marketing campaigns and so on which are all based around a name. If successful then you will forever associate that name with that company, even simple words such as Apple are now linked to huge companies. Perhaps the court was right in deciding that there is little skill or effort put into choosing a name, however the decision seems a little out of touch with the industry in which this case effects.

In Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd [1964] it was held that there must be a “requisite degree of skill, judgement and labour”, which they felt had been met through the football coupons. These are basically grids on football matches in which you have very little choice in how you layout the page, if the judges felt that there was a “requisite degree of skill, judgement and labour” involved in that then filling out tables in a specific order which you have no choice about is a skill we should all learn more about! This, however, contrasts to the earlier case of G A Cramp Sons Ltd v Frank Symthson Ltd [1944] where it was held that grids in the front of a diary did not have copyright… If you’re feeling a little confused by the judges contradictory judgments then you now know what it feels like to be a law student. Welcome to the club.

One case I should probably mention, just as it is a huge sore point for IP barristers is the case of Waterlow Directories Ltd v Reed information Systems Ltd [1992] FSR 409 where it was not argued that there is no copyright in a phone directory. Why would you agree with the opposition that there was copyright in a phone directory? Could you really, honestly say that there is copyright in a phone directory? Really? Apparently one not entirely with it barrister thought so.

And something to amuse you… Copyright Math. Our lecturer showed us this and I thought it was pretty great!

Until next time,

R

How Protected is your Data?

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

                                                                                         – Rudyard Kipling

How protected do you think you are? And no, I’m not talking about car insurance, although that is also pretty important! Data protection is one of those things that many of us think very little about until it all goes wrong, the same as most things then if we’re being honest.

You’ll probably be a slightly surprised to here that there isn’t a single piece of privacy legislation. Yes, there are things such as the right to respect of your private and family life (under s.1 (1) (a)) in the Human Rights Act 1998 which comes from Article 8 in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and even the Data Protect Act 1998 (DPA 1998), however none of these are specifically on the subject of privacy.

The DPA 1998 is the main piece of legislation that concerns the protection of personal data. It was implemented due to an EU Directive which stated that member states had to protect individuals rights in freedoms including the protection of their personal data. It set out eight principles, which state that personal data must be:

  1. Processed fairly and lawfully,
  2. Obtained for specified and lawful purposes,
  3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive,
  4. Accurate and where necessary kept up to date,
  5. Should not be kept any longer than necessary,
  6. Kept and processed in accordance with the subject’s (individual’s) rights,
  7. Securely kept and,
  8. Not be transferred to any other country without adequate protection in place.

One of the sections in this act, that many of us would be very interested to find out about, is s.7 DPA 1998. This section states that we are legally entitled to ask what data a specific company has on us, they may ask you for an administrative cost, however they should comply. There are some exemptions to this, as always, and includes military personnel, judicial appointments and many more all for various policy reasons, as with most things in law.

Another Act that many of us are aware of would be the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This most notably provides us with the ability to ask any public body for information and they must provide it. Things such as the Expenses Scandal came to light, mainly through the hard work and persistence of Heather Brooke, the journalist who broke the story. Thus it works both ways, we should have our personal data protected and we should be able to find out what is going on with public bodies as it is tax payers money that is being used and in some cases wasted on duck ponds.

So now you know about all the things the companies we entrust with our details should be doing, however we all still get those calls at random hours of the day asking us if we want to buy windows or get our credit scores checked, or in my case being asked about that loan I supposedly took out a few years ago, if only they knew I wasn’t old enough to take out a loan a few years ago. Something is going wrong somewhere, but as with all crimes, something always goes wrong somewhere. Maybe this is just what we have to learn to deal with in this age of instant communication, or maybe something should be done. But what? The DPA 1998 is currently under review, however it is unlikely that anything will come from this until 2017 at the earliest, so don’t hold your breath… Really, don’t. I’m not even sure the Dr could pull that one off.

Until next time,

R

Phone Hacking, An Inquiry and a lot of Posturing.

Two years on and most still feel a little hacked off, if we’re being honest. Now I’ve got you thinking… Yes It really has been two years since the first Leveson Inquiry report. Breaking news at the time, but has anything really changed, or have we been fooling ourselves all this time thinking that it would have made a difference in how our press operates and how it is regulated?

As you’ll most rightly remember the Leveson Inquiry was conjured up by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in the wake of the News of the World Phone Hacking Scandal; 13th July 2011, if you want the exact date. Probably the largest scandal involving the press in modern times, this scandal even led to the fall of the News of the World newspaper. High profile victims such as Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church were involved, but what shocked the public more was the fact that people such as the McCann’s, victims of the 7/7 attacks and Milly Dowler were all targeted by journalists. You can clearly see why we so desperately needed an inquiry into the press.

Lord Leveson was asked to chair the an inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, this inquiry would become known as the Leveson Inquiry. Leveson was called to the bar in 1970 and in 1986 he took silk, since then he has become a prominent judge in the English and Wales Judiciary and he is currently the President of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.

The inquiry was split into two parts, most originally named Part One and Part Two… To me that is like naming a street “The Street”, but who am I to comment? Part one was broken down into four sections which dealt with the relationships the press had with the public, the police and politicians and also set for recommendations concerning the regulation of the press. Part two of the inquiry is yet to be published and will not be so until current police investigations and court proceedings have been completed.

Now here is the interesting part, well at least it was for me… You see, I could tell you about the backlash from the media and political merry-go-round that ensued the publication of the Leveson Report, however, I was hard pushed to tell you more than one of the recommendations that Lord Leveson had set forward. So here they are!

It was stated that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC, the current press regulatory body) was not sufficient and that a new independent body was to be set up. The PCC was seemingly pretty useless from what our lecturer was telling us, for she had many dealings with them in the past. This is probably due to the fact that the PCC was set up, funded and headed by those at the top of the press industry… As you can imagine, they weren’t prepared to start giving themselves lectures on ethical codes. It was also stated that this new body that was to be set up would be given the power to impose fines and sanctions, amongst other things. However, membership to this would not be arbitrary, with only things such as kite-marks to be used as incentives. Even with these recommendations of more stringent regulations it was strongly denied by Lord Leveson that this was a form of statutory regulation of the press.

The media reaction to the report was strong, to say the least. A fun little fact provided by someone in my class: there has been the equivalent of six articles published everyday for a year about the Leveson Report… You know, I don’t think they were bothered in the slightest. Only six articles a day for a year, not that many really…

Mainly papers felt that the freedom of the press was being threatened and whilst most agreed that Lord Leveson’s recommendations should be implemented it was to be done on their terms in their time. The BBC have given a very good summary on the reaction of the press: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20546397

So here we are, two years on, we could swim in the newspaper articles written on the subject, we still gasp at the extent that some people are willing to go to get a headline, but has anything really changed? Although a regulatory body has been set up: Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), not all of the national papers have signed up to it and it has recently been stated that this new body resembles its predecessor. The political headache that followed the Leveson report saw the Lib Dem’s and Labour back peddle from a statue to a royal charter, but who could really blame them? They still want the papers to help with their election campaigns and that is very unlikely to happen if they backed a statue that regulated the press.

The whole fiasco has seemingly left us with the status quo that many wanted to be rid of. Whilst there may be better intentions floating around now, nothing is happening which leaves a rather unsatisfying taste. Maybe when Part Two of the report is published it will re-light the fire and something may actually happen. We can all live in hope, right?

Until next time,

R

All Rise!

The court is now in session… Please be seated.

Silence filled the room as the senior council for the appellants, Simms, rose to take her place (in front of a non existence lectern… We’re uni students, we can’t have everything!).

“My Lady’s and Lord…” She introduces herself, her learned friend and colleagues before starting her first submission. Court etiquette is one of the most important things in a court room and if done incorrectly can damage you beyond repair. Mainly through the fact that the judge starts off by not liking you, which is never what you want. However, the senior counsel breezed through the etiquette, because she was cool like that! What is court etiquette, I hear you ask! Well it is basically manners, your behaviour towards the judges, such as referring to them correctly: My Lord and My Lady, unless they are a circuit judge then it is Your Honour. Other things include introducing yourself and your fellow speakers, always been polite and respectful and allowing the judges to interrupt you, because that is something they like to do!

Also, I’ll take this opportunity to describe to you who/what is needed in a moot. So, firstly, you need a judge, or three in our case (this was our lecturer and a student from each team). You need a clerk, who is someone who time keeps in moots, and also a bailiff who announces the entry of the judges, that is normally the “all rise” bit. Then you have the speakers, usually two per side. A senior and junior council: the senior normally has the longer submission, however the team can choose how long each person speaks for. Anyways, back to the moot!

Her first submission, and notably the hardest point in the moot, was on the issue of confidentiality; please refer to the previous post to find the scenario.  Had Channel Xstra become liable in Breach of Confidentiality when they broadcasted a TV show which showed remarkably similar qualities to Simm’s idea?

This question raises a two questions. Firstly, was Xstra aware that they were participating in confidential conversation, as opposed to a private one? Secondly, what are the rules governing third parties and confidentiality?

The first submission for the appellants was thought to be the hardest because both of those questions have answers that tend to lean against them, not for. It is argued that Xstra was not taking part in a confidential conversation, and thus they were not bound by confidentiality. Whilst this could be argued either way we were not provided with the evidence and the first instance case suggests that Xstra were unaware of a breach of confidence. Therefore it left the appellants the argument that it would have been reasonable for Xstra to have assumed they were participating in a confidential conversation. The main case cited in favour of this was Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1969] RPC 41 where is was stated by Megarry J (read aloud as Justice Megarry for those who don’t do law speak) that: “if the circumstances are such that any reasonable man standing in the shoes of the recipient of the information would have realised that upon reasonable grounds the information was being given to him in confidence, then this should suffice to impose on him the equitable obligation of confidence.” The appellants sort to argue that it was normal in the entertainment industry for these conversations to be held in confidence.

The rules about third parties and breach of confidentiality all depend on whether the third party was aware of the confidentiality. Equally, if they knew that there was a confidential arrangement and they bought the idea from the owner, there would be no breach when the idea was later used and broadcasted. It was argued that Xstra knew that it was a confidential conversation and Xstra advantageously used the idea.

Senior Counsel for the appellants finished her submission and the room waited patiently for the Senior Counsel for the respondents to take his turn.

The Senior Counsel was dealing with two submissions: firstly that Xstra was an innocent third party and secondly that an injunction would be an ineffective as a remedy.

As stated above the issue of Xstra being a third party in a possible breach of confidentiality case was always easier to defend, so the Senior Counsel had his work cut out for him. It was also an easier point to argue that an injunction would have been an ineffective remedy because the appellants were not particularly interested in it for a remedy. The fact that the information had already been made available to the public meant that an injunction would have become void. There is no real point in stopping information from being available to the public if they already have access to it, now is there?

This leads us to the Junior Counsels for both sides. Typically the Junior Counsels have less time to speak, this was the case for both today.

The Junior Counsel started his speech with some rebuttals for the Senior Counsel for the respondents. A rebuttal is effectively a come back, because lawyers always feel the need to have the final say! The first to speak will have the rebuttal and the last to speak will have the surrebuttal. The main submission given by the Junior Counsel for the appellants was about the issue of public interest. He argued that there should be no defence of public interest allowed to the respondents. The issue that always arises with public interest is the difference between what is in the public interest and what the public are interested in. An example would be that whilst the public are interested in what Taylor Swift was wearing yesterday, Miss Swift’s clothes are not within the public interest… I’m sorry Talor, I’m sure you’re clothes are very interesting, but that is besides that point. Thus, the argument was that an idea for a TV show may have been what the public was interested in but is not within the remit of public interest. The Junior Counsel for the respondents argued that it was within the remit of pubic interest.

I’m sure you are currently on the edge of your seats waiting to find out who won…I know I was… Sort of.

It was a split decision! It was held that the appellants lost the appeal on their first submission (breach of confidentiality) however they did win on the second (there is no defence of public interest).

And about the picture… After all the nasty law, I thought you’d appreciate a picture of a bike and a few palm trees. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Until next time,

R

PS. The main cases used today were:

Frazer v Thames Television Ltd [1984] QB 44

  • This case is factually similar to the scenario, hence why it was used. F was the manager for a band which consisted of three girls. Between them they came up with an idea to make a TV show about the formation and then struggles of the band, it was to be a semi-factual (or to say semi-fictional?) piece of television. F and the three others were to portray themselves in the show. The idea was taken to a TV company (T), who orally, then later in written form, agreed to take on the show. T later cast other people into the role and F sued for breach of confidence.
  • It was held that if the idea was communicated in confidence, was readily identifiable, original, capable of being put in action and of potential revenue then the court would restrain further communication if the idea was not already accessible to the public.
  • There was held to be breach of confidence in this case. However, it can be distinguished from the facts of the scenario as the issue is with a third party. Can they be classed as the same in these purposes? I think not. Despite this, the argument given was that the idea in the scenario was also original, readily identifiable etc (as above).

Attorney-General v The Observer Ltd and others [1990] 1 AC 109

  • This case is also known as the Spycatcher.
  • This case was used due to its ruling on third parties and confidentiality. It was held that a third party that came into possession of the information would also be bound by confidentiality unless the information was otherwise available to the public (or public interest dictated disclosure, however this bit isn’t really relevant here).
  • Again, this case is clearly relevant in regard to third parties, however as raised above, did they, as a third party, realise that the information was privy?

And the main case that should have been used that no one did was:

De Maudsley v Palumbo [1996] E.M.L.R 460

  • This case was about the idea behind a very well known night club: the Ministry of Sound.
  • In short D told P about an idea for a nightclub in order to receive funding. P and some other individuals, not including D, then set up a nightclub.
  • It was surprising that this case was not used as it involved the passing of information in a social setting which may or may not have been seen as confidential. It was held that it was not a conversation that was held in confidence due to the social setting and the fact that D had re-framed from using the word “confidential” in case it stopped P from funding his idea.
  • It was also held that there had to be a significant element of originality and it had to be clearly identifiable as that of the confider (D in this case).
  • In relation to the scenario, was the idea sufficiently original and did it clearly belong to the confider? Ahh, well, that is for you to decide!