In the first civil case of its kind in England & Wales, the High Court has awarded substantial damages in a revenge porn claim.
The Claimant, Chrissy Chambers, brought a claim in harassment, breach of confidence and misuse of private information against her ex-boyfriend who had uploaded explicit videos to a porn website. The Claimant was unable to bring criminal proceedings as the videos were uploaded in 2011, four years prior to revenge porn becoming a criminal offence in England and Wales. The offence was introduced in April 2015 and carries a maximum prison sentence of two years.
Proceedings commenced in March 2016, following a crowdfunding campaign by the Claimant on the internet, with the case settling out of court in December 2017. In addition to an award for damages, the Claimant received the copyright of the videos meaning she can pursue legal action against any websites who feature the videos.
In another case Facebook were embroiled in legal action over a naked photograph of a 14 year old girl which was posted onto the social media giant. High Court proceedings were launched in Belfast after the image appeared on Facebook between November 2014 and January 2016. The Claimant alleged misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the Data Protection Act.
The case settled out of court with Facebook agreeing to pay undisclosed damages to the Claimant. The landmark ruling serves as a word of warning for social media outlets to ensure they have a robust system for responding to indecent images posted online. The ruling is likely to pave the way for many claims against other social media outlets.
As we predicted, following the High Court's decision in ABC v WB 200 Ltd v William Whillock, the courts have started to see an increase in revenge porn claims. In this case the Court awarded damages for 'sexting' for the first time. The Claimant sought damages for mental and emotional distress after it was discovered she had received inappropriate texts from Mr Whillock, who was a member of staff of the school she attended. The court held there was intentional infliction of harm and awarded the Claimant a total of £51,370 in damages.
Furthermore, the recent rulings coupled with the finding of vicarious liability for a deliberate data protection breach by a disgruntled employee in Various Claimants v Morrisons Supermarket may also result in occupational revenge porn claims in certain circumstances where an employee has shared explicit images of another via work devices.