Breach of Confidence in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • A v B Plc and Another
    • Court of Appeal
    • 11 Mar 2002

    The court is able to achieve this by absorbing the rights which articles 8 and 10 protect into the long-established action for breach of confidence. This involves giving a new strength and breadth to the action so that it accommodates the requirements of those articles.

  • Imerman v Tchenguiz and Others
    • Court of Appeal
    • 29 Jul 2010

    It is of the essence of the claimant's right to confidentiality that he can choose whether, and, if so, to whom and in what circumstances and on what terms, to reveal the information which has the protection of the confidence.

  • Attorney General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd and Others (No. 2)
    • House of Lords
    • 13 Oct 1988

    I start with the broad general principle (which I do not intend in any way to be definitive) that a duty of confidence arises when confidential information comes to the knowledge of a person (the confidant) in circumstances where he has notice, or is held to have agreed, that the information is confidential, with the effect that it would be just in all the circumstances that he should be precluded from disclosing the information to others.

    But it is well settled that a duty of confidence may arise in equity independently of such cases; and I have expressed the circumstances in which the duty arises in broad terms, not merely to embrace those cases where a third party receives information from a person who is under a duty of confidence in respect of it, knowing that it has been disclosed by that person to him in breach of his duty of confidence, but also to include certain situations, beloved of law teachers - where an obviously confidential document is wafted by an electric fan out of a window into a crowded street, or when an obviously confidential document, such as a private diary, is dropped in a public place, and is then picked up by a passer-by.

  • Seager v Copydex Ltd
    • Court of Appeal
    • 18 Apr 1967

    It depends on the broad principle of equity that he who has received information in confidence shall not take unfair advantage of it. He must not make use of it to the prejudice of him who gave it without obtaining his consent. He should go to the public source and get it: or, at any rate, not be in a better position than if he had gone to the public source. He should not get a start over others by using the information which he received in confidence.

  • Campbell v MGN Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 06 May 2004

    The common law or, more precisely, courts of equity have long afforded protection to the wrongful use of private information by means of the cause of action which became known as breach of confidence. A breach of confidence was restrained as a form of unconscionable conduct, akin to a breach of trust. The confidence referred to in the phrase 'breach of confidence' was the confidence arising out of a confidential relationship.

  • Vercoe v Rutland Management Ld
    • Chancery Division
    • 05 Mar 2010

    His reasoning at p. 285C-E, comparing remedies available in contract and for breach of confidence in relation to the same underlying facts, flows in both directions. Both in cases of breach of contract and in cases of breach of confidence, the question (at a high level of generality) is, what is the just response to the wrong in question (cf Lord Nicholls at p. 284H, set out above)?

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Breach of Confidence as a Privacy Remedy in the Human Rights Act Era
    • Nbr. 63-5, September 2000
    • The Modern Law Review
    This article examines the impact of the Human Rights Act (HRA) on the current lack of a remedy for non‐consensual publication of personal information by the media. It argues that the action for bre...
  • Transforming Breach of Confidence? Towards a Common Law Right of Privacy under the Human Rights Act
    • Nbr. 66-5, September 2003
    • The Modern Law Review
    This article examines the development of a remedy for unauthorised publication of personal information that has resulted from the fusion of breach of confidence with the limited ‘horizontal’ applic...
  • New on the net
    • Nbr. 16-6, June 1998
    • The Electronic Library
    • 410-411
    Cyberliability: generic term coined in the late 1990s for various types of legal liability arising from business use of the Internet and e‐mail including cyber‐libel, copyright infringement, breach...
  • A Potential Framework For Privacy? A Reply To Hello!
    • Nbr. 69-5, September 2006
    • The Modern Law Review
    In Douglas v Hello! Ltd (No 3), the Court of Appeal noted that one ramification of ‘shoehorning’ invasions of privacy into the cause of action of breach of confidence is that ‘it does not fall to b...
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Law Firm Commentaries

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