A tort of invasion of privacy... So, is there one, or
After nude photos of Lara Bingle walking around her apartment
were aired on television, she thinks there should be. And it's
likely that the man in Brisbane made famous on Twitter for watching
porn in his office cubicle would agree.
A growing trend in Australian courts towards the recognition of
privacy as a right in itself deserving of protection suggested that
a distinct cause of action for invasion of privacy was
It all began with controversial footage of the processing of
brush tail possum meat in Australian Broadcasting Corporation v
Lenah Game Meats. The High Court in this case alluded to a
need to develop a cause of action for invasion of privacy. Since
then, two lower courts have taken the hint by expressly recognising
a civil action for damages based on the right of an individual
person to privacy.
For a while, it seemed as though Lara could go back to being
naked in her home in peace. That is until the Supreme Court of
South Australia's recent decision in Sands v South
Australia threw a spanner in the works.
In this case, Derick Sands, a suspect in a murder case, alleged
that, in breach of his privacy, a person within the South Australia
Police Force had leaked his name to the media. Surprisingly, the
Supreme Court rejected the High Court's endorsement in
Lenah Game Meats of the development of a tort of privacy,
saying that further development in the law was needed first.
Surprising because we'd thought the High Court was pretty clear
Where does that leave us? Well, it's undecided whether
invasion of privacy exists as a civil cause of action. This needs
to get up to an appellate court, or preferably the High Court
itself, so we can get a proper answer.
In the meantime, keep your clothes on, or your curtains closed,
and save the porn for home.
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