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The incorporation into UK law of the European Convention on Human Rights has led to the development of privacy law. This note summarises the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the recent controversies over the use of injunctions and super-injunctions.

A particular tension exists between the Conventions’ Article 8 right to privacy and the Article 10 right which provides for freedom of expression. The Human Rights Act provides that the courts have particular regard to the right to freedom of expression. In many other European countries the balance is shifted more towards securing privacy of the individual.

A super-injunction is a court order which requires that, when an injunction is in place, its very existence may not be disclosed or published. Following concerns over the use of super-injunctions, notably in privacy cases, the Master of the Rolls (Lord Neuberger) set up a committee which reported on 20 May 2011. Three days later, the Attorney General (Dominic Grieve) announced that a joint committee of both Houses would be established to investigate further. One particular matter is the ease with which injunctions and super-injunctions can be circumvented by the internet and newspapers outside England and Wales.

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