Supreme Court: Individuals have reasonable expectation of privacy until charged

Simon Airey, James Dobias, Joshua Domb and William Merry of McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP analyse the case and its importance for the development of English privacy law more generally.

On 16 February 2022, the UK Supreme Court in Bloomberg LP v ZXC [2022] UKSC 5 unanimously upheld the decisions of two lower courts that Bloomberg was wrong to publish an article identifying a US executive who was under investigation in relation to allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption as he had a reasonable expectation of privacy unless and until he was charged.

The court found that Bloomberg misused the executive’s private information when it reported on a confidential letter of request sent by a UK legal enforcement agency to its counterpart in a foreign state.

As a general rule or as a legitimate starting point, a person under criminal investigation has a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of information relating to that investigation unless and until they are formally charged.

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