HRH Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2021] EWCA Civ 1810

2 December 2021

Jessie Bowhill appeared as junior IP counsel for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, and Adrian Speck QC and Isabel Jamal appeared as IP counsel for Associated Newspapers in the appeal by Associated Newspapers of the judgment of Warby J granting the Duchess summary judgment.

The proceedings concern the publication by the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline of extracts of a handwritten letter sent by the Duchess to her father, Thomas Markle.  Warby J (as he then was) granted the Duchess summary judgment for claims of misuse of private information and infringement of copyright.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Associated Newspaper’s appeal.  In his leading judgment, Vos MR held that the judge had properly understood the facts.  It was hard to see what evidence could be adduced at trial that would alter the assessment of whether it was appropriate to publish the letter to rebut allegations made against Mr Markle, or whether free speech justified an interference with the copyright in the letter for the purposes of fair dealing.  The judge had applied the correct legal tests when determining whether there was a reasonable expectation of privacy and, if so, whether interference with that expectation was justified.  Similarly, the legal test applied to determine whether there was fair dealing with the copyright in the letter was also correct.

View judgment