Sienna Miller Settles Her Phone Hacking Case Against News Group Newspapers

Kevin Modiri
Prince Harry Settles Telephone Hacking

Another high-profile celebrity subjected to the hacking of her telephone by the News Group Newspapers has reached a settlement.

Sienna Miller’s phone hacking claim against News Group Newspapers

Case background

Actress, Sienna Miller, was pursuing the newspaper group in respect of breaching her privacy in respect of hacking her telephone and leaking information about her personal life. She however entered into a settlement for a substantial sum in damages on the basis that the Defendant made no admission of liability. Sienna Miller stated outside of the Court:

“I wanted to go to trial. I wanted to expose the criminality that runs through the heart of this corporation. A criminality demonstrated clearly and irrevocably by the evidence which I have seen. I wanted to share News Group’s secrets just as they have shared mine.

“Unfortunately, that legal recourse is not available to me or to anyone who does not have countless millions of pounds to spend on the pursuit of justice. Such is our world. Until someone comes along who can confront the Murdochs’ endless means, all that I have left are these words. And they are the truth.”

Legal costs in privacy cases

This statement raises a number of important points regarding legal costs in privacy cases.

1. Privacy cases (as with all litigation) are expensive. It would however be a truly exceptional case where the costs to be incurred by each party would be in the millions of pounds. The stages of the proceedings likely to escalate the costs in a dispute, such as this, would be the disclosure stage, the gathering of witness evidence, and the trial itself. Keeping a much more focused/confined case in terms of the allegations made and accordingly, the evidence to be gathered could help limit the costs incurred.

2. Until 2019, privacy cases fell within the ‘carve out’ from the reforms in Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) funding. A CFA (or more commonly known as a no win no fee agreement) is an agreement between the solicitor and their client whereby they agree to charge a specific fee (as low as £0 per hour) in the event they lose the case and another hourly rate (usually their full hourly rate) in addition to a success fee of up to 100% in the event that the case is won. Until 2019, the success fee was recoverable from the opponent in cases against publishers. The ability to recover such a success fee has now been abolished. This does mean that CFAs are a much less attractive means of funding in most cases now and accordingly all alternative means of funding must be explored first.

3. Publication and privacy proceedings do still have the ability for successful claimants to be able to recover from the opponent an After the Event insurance policy premium as part of the costs of the action. An After the Event insurance policy covers a claimant against the risk of losing the case at trial in terms of covering the defendant’s costs should the claim fail and also often the expenses incurred by the claimant such as Court and expert fees. There have been many attempts to expand the scope of this carve-out to include data breach cases, such as those relating to cyber-attacks. Whilst it seems attractive to include claims such as breach of confidence and misuse of private information when pleading a data protection case, Mr Justice Saini’s recent judgment in the cyber-attack case of Warren v DSG Retail [2021] should sound like a warning against doing so. Mr Justice Saini struck out all parts of the claim unrelated to a breach of the data protection legislation meaning that the claimants will now most likely be unable to recover the substantial After the Event insurance premiums from the defendant, even if successful.

How Nelsons can helpSienna Miller Hacking

Kevin Modiri is a Partner in our expert Dispute Resolution team.

Should you be affected by any issues surrounding a breach of your privacy/data security, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.

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