Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 55: Privacy*

Colm O’Cinneide and Myriam Hunter-Henin


Privacy possessed for many years an uncertain status in English common law, while legislative protection for privacy interests remains piecemeal and limited. However, the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law via the Human Rights Act 1998, and in particular of Article 8 of the Convention with its protection of a right to personal privacy, has triggered a ‘mini-revolution’ in this area of law. Under the influence of the Strasbourg jurisprudence, English tort law now provides a tort remedy for breach of privacy, but its ambit remains controversial and open to debate. In the absence of a written constitution, no constitutional right to privacy exists in English law. In addition, and in interesting contrast to many US jurisdictions, no cause of action for breach of privacy was historically recognised to exist in the English common law, as confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Kaye v. Robertson [1991] FSR 62 and the House of Lords in R v. Wainwright [2003] UKHL 53. However, a combination of legislative provisions and common law developments came gradually over time to confer a degree of indirect protection upon privacy interests.

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