Douglas Hello! battle: test case verdict in 05

A major test case battle on privacy and confidentiality laws was underway in the Court of Appeal this week.

The appeal centres on the use by celebrity magazine Hello! of unauthorised paparazzi photographs of the wedding of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

Last year a judge awarded the Douglases and Hello! rival OK! – which had paid £1 million for the exclusive picture rights of the wedding – a total of £1,047,756 damages over what happened.

Of this, the Douglases were to receive just £14,600.

The appeal is a case of major importance to the media.

It is being argued that the High Court last year was – among other things – wrong to hold that OK!’s commercial interest in the pictures could be protected as a right similar to a trade secret; wrong in its view on the application of confidentiality laws; and wrong in the view it took of newspaper publication of the unauthorised pictures.

In addition to Hello!’s appeal, however, the Douglases and OK! are cross-appealing.

They are challenging the later legal costs order which they say left them out of pocket.

The judge awarded them an estimated £2 million of the estimated £4 million costs. They seek more.

The case was due to finish this week, but judgment will not be given until next year.

By Roger Pearson

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