The Supreme Court’s JR38 judgment
— in a few sentences

by Carl Gardner on July 1, 2015

In the JR38 case, the Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal of a young man who’d argued that his article 8 Convention right to respect for private life was breached where newspapers published, on the police’s request, photos of him apparently taking part in a riot, aged 14. Here’s my legal analysis, in a few sentences, of what the Justices held.

RATIO—Riot is not an activity which the right to respect for private life exists to protect, and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the publication of photographs of recent rioting for the purpose of identifying those involved. The Convention right to private life is therefore not engaged (Lords Toulson and Clarke, with whom Lord Hodge agreed);

OBITER—Publication as a last resort to identify offenders is justified and proportionate (All five Justices).

 
A minority agreed that the publication was justified, but dissented on the first point, saying article 8 was engaged.

The reasonable expectation of privacy is just one factor relevant to whether article 8 is engaged. A child’s need for protection can go beyond what an adult could reasonably expect. Article 8 therefore includes the need to protect a child from exposure as a criminal (Lord Kerr, with whom Lord Wilson agreed).

 
Here are explanations of the terms ratio, obiter and dissent.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Phil July 1, 2015 at 16:37

If ‘private’ means anything the majority has to be correct about article 8. Whether there are, or should be, any legal limits to the policing and surveillance of public life (e.g. political activism) is another question, although probably not one that will be argued any time soon. (In any case, it’s hard to imagine any protection of political participation which would cover riot.)

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