John D. McCamus


In recent years, a series of leading cases have returned to consider these questions. The implications of these decisions for the current shape of English law relating to civil redress for privacy invasion are the subject of this article. Surprisingly, perhaps, English courts have remained steadfast in their refusal to recognize invasion of privacy as a tort and in doing so have quite explicitly declined to rely on American experience in this area. Rather, English courts have preferred to resist innovation of this kind and leave the difficult question of privacy law reform to Parliament. On a number of recent occasions, Parliament has reacted by enacting legislation designed to solve the particular problem left unsolved by the courts. At the same time, however, in the last few years, English courts have subjected the traditional doctrine of breach of confidence to a radical transformation and have recognized what is essentially, though not in name, a tort consisting of the unlawful publication of sensitive personal information. The principal application of this doctrine to date has been in the context of aggressive news gathering activities of the tabloid press targeted at the personal lives of celebrities. After providing an account of these developments, this article will briefly consider the adequacy of reformulated breach of confidence doctrine as an instrument of redress in such circumstances.