£15,000 damages for breach of privacy in short-lived Facebook post
The High Court has decided in JQL v NTP that a Facebook post which disclosed the mental health issues and history of self-harm of the claimant constituted misuse of private information and a breach of confidence.
The post by the claimant's uncle referred to his niece as having received "treatment for mental health and self-harm", a fact which she had not revealed to a number of family members who saw the post before it was taken down three hours later by Facebook.
While the post was seen only by six members of the claimant's family, and a small number of additional people, the Court rejected the uncle's argument that publication was not sufficiently extensive to be actionable. The Court accepted that, despite the very limited extent of publication and the fact that the post was only up for a very short period, it had been seen by precisely those people to whom its publication was most damaging to the claimant.
The claimant was therefore awarded damages of £15,000, which included aggravated damages owing to the aggressive way in which the uncle had sought to defend the claim, threatening to drag the claimant and her mother "from the gutter and through mud".
The full judgment can be read here.