Celebrity magazines OK! and Hello!
go head to head in the highest court in the land next Monday (20
November) for the final £6 million round of their legal battle over
photographs of the wedding of the wedding of Michael Douglas and
Catherine Zeta Jones.
But the glitter of Hollywood's highest
profile wedding will be far removed from the dusty legal argument
scheduled to last a week in a wood-panelled committee room at London's
House of Lords.
The legal argument is over whether OK! who
had done a deal with Douglas and Zeta Jones to buy the exclusive rights
to their official wedding pictures for £1 million and who sued Hello! over Hello!'s
use of unauthorised paparazzi pictures of the wedding are entitled to
just over £1 million compensation they were awarded in the High Court
but later stripped of by the Court of Appeal.
The other £5
million at stake in next week's hearing is made up of the legal costs
for both sides which will have to be paid by the loser. The Douglases
will not be involved in this round of the case and little will be said
about the wedding. Instead top lawyers will argue finer points of law
over whether by publishing the unauthorised pictures Hello! was guilty of the "economic tort" of doing OK! out of sales.
case will also raise the important question of whether publication of
the unauthorised photographs amounted to a breach of a confidence
shared by the Douglases and OK! under the deal they had struck.
lawyers will argue that this would create a new law of "image rights"
not recognised previously under English law. The long-running case is
one which has engendered world wide interest and brought Michael
Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones to London to give evidence before Mr
Justice Lindsay in 2003.
Zeta-Jones and Douglas along with OK! argued among other things that the fuzzy "snatched" photographs used by Hello! breached their privacy.
The photographs used by Hello!
were taken by photographer Rupert Thorpe, the 33-year-old son of former
Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe, after he gate-crashed the wedding
party. In the High Court the Douglases were awarded just £14,600
damages over use of the pictures.
OK!, which had bought the exclusive wedding picture rights to the official photographs for £1 million, was awarded £1,033,156.
However, OK! was
later stripped of its damages in a landmark ruling by the Court of
Appeal. It is that decision which is now to be challenged in before the