The EU and Media Law

Matrix is holding a series of seminars on EU law in different areas of practice. The last seminar was on EU and Media law with Aidan O’Neill and Sara Mansoori giving talks and Hugh Tomlinson QC as the Chair.

Sara’s slides from the seminar can be found below. They cover a broad range of matters: the Charter; the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2006; Jurisdiction in EU cases and the current debate relating to conflict of laws; and ATVOD, the Authority for Television on Demand. The slides are not intended to go into the details of each of these topics; the idea is to give a flavour of the types of EU Media issues that exist and current topics of debate.

One such area is the Working Document on Amendments to Rome II which suggests that there is at least an arguable case that a legal basis exists for an EU Media law.  Given the history of trying to agree amendments to Rome II in relation to media law, such a proposal is (to say the least) ambitious. The Working Document recognises this and suggests – as a fall back position if harmonisation of defamation laws could not be achieved – a European level ADR for defamation claims with EU cross border elements.  More detail is necessary before any view can be taken as to the merits of this suggestion, but it raises difficult issues about which country’s laws would be applied and who would sit as mediators in such cases.  Parties have to understand exactly how a system will work in order to judge whether it is in their best interests to use it.

Sara Mansoori’s slides can be found here: Matrix EU and Media Law

Aidan O’Neill’s Paper on EU Law and Freedom of Information can be found here: EU Law and Freedom of Information

Publish and be Sued: But Where?

Aidan O’Neill QC

If defamatory material has been published on the Internet where can the defamed individual bring an action, and what law applies? These are the questions posed of the CJEU by the German Federal Court of Justice (the Bundesgerichtshof) and by the Tribunal de Grande Instance (Paris) in two cases – respectively eDate Advertising GmbH v. X, C-509/09 and Martinez v. Mirror Group Newspapers Limited, C-161/10  – which were heard and decided on together by the Grand Chamber of the Luxembourg Court on 25 October 2010.

The eDate Advertising case was brought in Germany against an Austrian domiciled company by a convicted murderer in respect of a cached website news report which named the murderer and his brother (who had been convicted along with him of the same crime), briefly described the crime of which they had been convicted, and noted that they had both lodged appeals against their convictions with the German Federal Constitutional Court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht). The matter at issue was whether or not the German courts had jurisdiction to hear and determine the brother’s application for an order restraining the Austrian company (in accord with German law) from giving his full name in its report.

The Martinez case was brought in France by a French actor and his father against a UK company, complaining that the web-publication by a British newspaper, the Sunday Mirror, of an article in English, with accompanying photographs, headlined “Kylie Minogue is back with Olivier Martinez” breached their privacy rights as guaranteed them under French law.

The issues of EU law for the CJEU to determine in each case involved the interpretation of provisions of the Brussels I Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and of Directive 2000/31/EC on the “free movement of information society services”.

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