Zeta Jones and Douglas Win Limited Damages

December 2003


The photographs snatched by papparatzi at Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas’ wedding have cost Hello! Magazine more than £1 million in damages. In the High Court, Mr Justice Lindsay awarded a total of £14,600 damages to the couple and also awarded OK! Magazine £1,033,156 in damages for commercial damage to its exclusive coverage of the New York wedding in November 2000.
See Law Updates May 2003

COMMENT : The judgement in this case sees only limited damages awarded to the couple : a nominal £50 to each of the claimants for data protection infringements and £3,750 each for the ‘distress’. The substantial award of damages is to OK magazine who lost their right to exclusive pictures from the celebrity wedding and Mr Justice Lindsey accepted that the magazine had lost substantial sales. To take this further, this ‘commercial confidence’ must be based on the licence of certain rights Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas has – and it is suggested that this is not only to the ‘event’ itself, the wedding, but to their own image. Most recently F1 driver Eddie Irving won a case against TalkRadio after they used the driver’s image in an advertisement without his permission.

In a separate case, the ECJ is to review the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court which allowed an injunction to prevent the German press publishing pictures of Princess Caroline von Hannover’s children (but this did not extend to the Princess herself). The Princess had to tolerate pictures of herself (playing tennis, in a bathing costume) because she was a public figure. Princess Caroline’s claim is brought in respect of an unacceptable intrusion of her right of privacy in private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Also see: http://www.simkins.com/ebulletins/archive/default.aspx (Mixed fortunes for the parties in the assessment of damages in the Douglas v Hello! Action. By J Coad)

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