Misuse of private information is a tort distinct from breach of confidence

In the case of Judith Vidal-Hall & ors v Google Inc [2014] EWHC 13, 16 January 2014, Google challenged the jurisdiction of the English court to hear claims made concerning Google’s use of cookies to track users’ online activities on the Safari browser.

Tugendhat J’s judgment contains a novel analysis of, inter alia, the nature of a ‘misuse of private information’ claim, for the first time considering, and answering in the affirmative, the question whether such a claim is a tort in its own right.

Distinguishing such a claim from a ‘breach of confidence’ has implications both in terms of gateways for service out of the jurisdiction and damages issues. The case also considered issues such as the extent to which additional grounds for service out of the jurisdiction can be added after the initial application before a master and the type of damage covered by the Data Protection Act 1998…

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