The applicant, a publisher of a newspaper, published information about a drug addiction of a famous model. There was a photo added to the article showing the model coming out of the premises of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) center. The model sued the applicant for a breach of her privacy. The national courts found the applicant guilty and ordered the company to pay damages to the model and the success fee (payable by a client to his or her lawyer only if the case has been won) amounting to almost 250 000 pounds to her lawyer, stating that the publication of details of the model’s treatment in the NA and the secretly taken photographs was an invasion in her private life.
The applicant alleged that the punishment for the publication of the photographs violated its right to freedom of expression.
The Court ruled that the applicant’s freedom of expression had not been violated in respect of the obligation to pay damages but had been violated with regard to the obligation to pay the high amount of success fee.
As regards the damages, the Court found that:
The damages were prescribed by British law and the legitimate aim of them was to protect the privacy of the model.
The national courts had given good enough reasons why the pictures should not have been published, as they were of intimate and private nature and covertly taken.
With respect to the success fee, the Court stated that:
It was prescribed by British laws and pursued the aim of protecting persons who cannot pay for legal aid themselves and thus access justice.
However, the famous model was wealthy and was not a person who could not pay for the legal aid.
Taking into account that the domestic proceedings were lengthy and somewhat complex, the sum paid by the applicant to her lawyer was very high and was disproportionate with regard to the legitimate interests sought to be protected.