The European Court of Human Rights has announced today that it will deliver two Grand Chamber judgments, in the cases of Axel Springer AG v Germany and von Hannover v Germany (No.2) on 7 February 2012. The cases were both heard more than 15 months ago, on 13 October 2010. We had a post about the hearing at the time (and an earlier preview).Both cases concern the publication in the media of material which is alleged to be private. The Axel Springer case concerned the publication in “Bild” of an article about a well-known television actor, being arrested for possession of cocaine. The article was illustrated by three pictures of the actor. The German court granted him an injunction to prohibit the publication of the article and the photos. The applicant company did not challenge the judgment concerning the photos. The newspaper published a second article in July 2005, which reported on the actor being convicted and fined for illegal possession of drugs after he had made a full confession.
Read more on Inforrm’s Blog. In light of intervening developments and discussions of “right to be forgotten,” it will be particularly interesting to see how the court rules in these cases as in both cases, there’s no dispute about the accuracy of the reports, but the issue is whether a free press and public interest or curiosity trumps an individual’s privacy rights. Of course, even if such articles were prohibited in the EU, what would stop a non-EU publisher from reporting the news?