Freedom of expression

One of the fundamental human rights that are most often argued about in court is freedom of expression. The right, which is recognised in the common law and in Article 10 ECHR, is a qualified right that can be subject to limitation for one of a number of reasons of “public interest”. However, in some cases, a person who is exercising freedom of expression may alternatively argue that there is a public interest justification for them doing so; that is, it is in the interests of the wider public for that person to be able to, for instance, publish an article or make a speech. Where the courts accede to arguments of this kind, they are in effect accepting a “public interest defence” that allows freedom of expression to prevail over some other right. That right will typically be the right to privacy contained in Article 8 ECHR.

Two areas of law in which the “public interest defence” is particularly prominent are “defamation” and the “misuse of private information”. The law in each of these areas has its origins in common law principle and practice, but it has recently evolved to embrace the demands of Articles 8 and 10 ECHR. Such developments have often proven controversial and there have been a number of calls for legislative reforms.

glqxz9283 sfy39587stf01 mnesdcuix7