Invasion of Privacy – ALRC Report

The current Australian Government has made it clear it does not intend to introduce a statutory cause of action of serious invasions of privacy. Nevertheless, in a report tabled in Parliament on 3 September 2014 the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has proposed a new statutory tort for just that.

The report is comprehensive and considered. The proposals certainly deserve careful consideration and in my view could provide a useful model for New Zealand.

At [2.8] the report discusses the challenge which arises when determining the boundaries for greater privacy protection, drawing the difficult distinction between the public and the private spheres quoting the passage from ABC v Lenah Game Meats (Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 199, [42]), where Gleeson CJ remarked that: “There is no bright line which can be drawn between what is private and what is not. Use of the term ‘public’ is often a convenient method of contrast, but there is a large area in between what is necessarily public and what is necessarily private.”

That comment is as applicable today as it was in 2001. The full report is available at http://www.alrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/final_report_123_whole_report.pdf

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