Major Lords Decision Today

In a case that marks new firsts – such as an eight million pound legal bill – their Lordships today handed down an odd trilogy of cases concerning claims in tort for economic loss caused by intentional acts. The three cases involve five different alleged wrongs, raising possible causes of action for economic loss: inducing breach of contract (Mainstream), causing loss by unlawful means (Zeta-Jones) interference with contractual relations (OBG); breach of confidence (Zeta-Jones) and conversion (OBG). Lord Hoffmann’s speech is a tour de force – as one would expect.

For the media the central case is the last act in the Zeta-Jones wedding pictures dispute. Hello! magazine breached confidentiality by publishing secretly snapped pictures of the couple’s November 2000 celebration. Douglas and Zeta-Jones had signed an exclusive 1-million-pound deal with rival OK! to cover their lavish wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel.

“Having paid 1 million pounds for an exclusive right it seems to me that OK! ought to be in a position to protect that right and to look to the law for redress were a third party intentionally to destroy it,” said one of the judges, Lord Brown. The judges ruled in favor of OK! by a 3-2 margin.

The Zeta-Jones case is here.

For my earlier thoughts on that case see Zapping the Paparazzi

I would normally link to an image of Ms. Zeta-Jones, but given the subject of the lawsuit, no unauthorized use of images here.

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