Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

McMillan Williams advises and represents clients upon a full range of media and entertainment law issues, including copyright, moral rights, performers' rights, defamation, malicious falsehood, privacy, passing off and trade marks.

We negotiate, draft and advise upon agreements such as copyright licences and assignments, commercial contracts, management agreements, publishing contracts, and recording agreements, among other documents.

When relationships break down in the media and entertainment world, we represent clients in disputes, whether that be through litigation or negotiated out-of-court settlements. We also act for clients who complain to Ofcom, the communications regulator.

Our specialists have acted for novelists, journalists, media corporations, freelance writers, actors, producers, cameramen, costume designers, as well as various other media professionals and entities.

We have in addition represented members of the public who have unwittingly appeared against their wishes on television, radio, or in the press.

At long last, on 26 July 2016 the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the regulator of the Press, set-up an arbitration pilot scheme to allow parties to avoid having to go through expensive court proceedings for defamation, privacy and harassment claims against participating newspapers and magazine. The scheme is initially set to run for 12 months.

The Process

IPSO Arbitration

The way the process works is that instead of the parties going to court, an IPSO-appointed arbiter will judge a claim in a more informal, probably quicker, and certainly cheaper way and will make a decision that is binding on both parties (ie, you and the publisher). 

Before you can go down the IPSO arbitration route, both you and the publisher must agree to arbitrate your claim through IPSO. It is likely that participating publishers will be eager to sign up to this route, particularly as it will also save them significant legal costs, and we produce a list of participating publishers at the end of this article.  The type of claims that are potentially eligible for IPSO arbitration are those which:

  • Relate to defamation, privacy and harassment; and
  • Are brought within 12 months of the alleged wrongdoing; and
  • Are brought against participating publications (see the list at the end of this article).

We Can Help

At MW, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are the victims of defamation, privacy and harassment.

If you have an eligible claim in relation to the above and would like to talk to one of our specialist Solicitors, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

Participating Publications

The publications below are participating in the IPSO Arbitration Scheme, although they are not obligated to arbitrate. This must be agreed for each case, and we can assist with this.

Trinity Mirror
The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror, The Sunday People, The Liverpool Echo
Telegraph Media Group
The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Weekly Telegraph
Conde Nast Publications Limited
Brides, Conde Nast Johansens, Conde Nast Traveller, Glamour, GQ, GQ Style, House and Garden, Love, Tatler, The World of Interiors, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired
Northern and Shell
The Daily Express, The Daily Star, New!, OK!, Star Magazine
News UK
The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement
Associated Newspapers
Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro (NB: that the Mail Online and Metro.co.uk are excluded from the pilot)

The Press Association

The Press Association drafts content for newspapers, websites, broadcasters and magazines, and does not publish its own titles. IPSO can refer arbitration claims to the Press Association in relation to its content regardless of where that content appeared.

In this age of instant communication, reputations can be destroyed in the blink of an eye and attacks on reputations can now occur in many places, from social media and the internet to the mainstream press, or television.  Our experts specialise not just in representing high-profile media personalities, corporate leaders, politicians and organisations, but also the general public, for whom a defamatory attack or campaign against them may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but equally (and sometimes more) damaging to them.


Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

In select cases we offer clients conditional fee agreements (ie, no win, no fee funding).

As well as having a wide range of experience of suing defamation defendants in the High Court for damages (ie, compensation), orders, and injunctions, we take a practical approach to these disputes and settle most of them out-of-court.

We realise that being dragged through lengthy court proceedings under the glare of public and media scrutiny is not always the ideal solution for our clients. Many would prefer a discreet out-of-court settlement of damages, sometimes with a public apology and other times confidentially, depending upon the preference of our clients.

At McMillan Williams, we also seek to prevent publication of planned defamatory pieces, but where that has not been possible, we act swiftly to repair the harm done by the defamatory publication or broadcast.

Our lead Partner dealing with defamation disputes is a former national newspaper journalist, as well as a former libel consultant lawyer to the press, and as such he has an unusual and helpful perspective as a solicitor upon how the media works, and knowledge of the best tactics to deploy to obtain favourable settlements for our clients.

After settlement has been reached, or a trial concluded, we also offer a press release drafting service to ensure our clients’ good reputations are fully restored, if a particular client wishes to publicise their matter.

As well as the above, for our corporate clients that are proactively taking measures to protect their reputations, we offer training seminars upon how to do so, and we prepare risk assessments and report upon company systems from a defamation perspective.

We also provide training to organisations upon how to try to avoid accidentally defaming a third party in their publications, whether this be via newsletters, leaflets, slogans, giving quotes to the media, advertising, or another method of communication.

In addition, we provide a pre-publication libel reading service to novelists, script-writers, website content drafters, speechwriters, and other writers, as well as to organisations and companies that have websites.

McMillan Williams’ experts specialise in advising clients who have been the victims of telephone and email hacking.

Our specialist Lawyers deal with media litigation and have successfully pursued various cases against News Group Newspapers Limited (‘NGN’) in relation to the recent phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. 

The News of The World Hacking Scandal

This scandal led to the newspaper's eventual closure and to the founding of the Leveson Inquiry, a judicial inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the British press with public hearings being held in 2011 and 2012. Our Head of Media Law drafted a number of submissions and prepared witness evidence for these hearings.

The NGN compensation payments he obtained via out-of-court settlements were significant but confidential.  All of his clients were represented on a conditional fee (no win no fee) agreement.

Police investigations into phone hacking by the British media have now concluded but evidence and victims of hacking may still come forward. 

We also have expertise in dealing with cases relating to the hacking of emails, whether that is carried out by the media or any other third party.

Email Hacking 

We also have expertise in dealing with cases relating to the hacking of emails or unlawful use of your digital information either on the internet or social media, whether this is carried out by the media or any other third party. 

We Can Help You

At MW our Mission is to "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and we offer conditional fee agreements (no win, no fee funding) for these types of cases, where appropriate.

If you have any evidence that you are or have been a victim of phone hacking, or feel that your digital data has been used unlawfully call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.


Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

The law relating to privacy rights has developed significantly in recent years and there is now a clear right to pursue claims in relation to privacy.  This is a complex area of law that requires in-depth knowledge of the various interpretative cases and our experts are experienced in both bringing privacy claims to court and settling them (often discreetly) out of court. 

The courts have said that 'there is no bright line' between what information is private and what is not. Despite this, certain information is more likely to be deemed private than others.   Information about physical or mental health, involving children, nudity, bereavements, family or personal relationships, or sexual orientation are merely examples and disputes are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

There are various ways in which privacy can be infringed, such as in writing, broadcasts, or photographs.  If you think your privacy may have been breached, please contact us. Our specialists will assess your case and advise upon it.

In select cases, we also offer our clients conditional fee agreements (ie, no win, no fee funding).

For organisations, public bodies, businesses and companies, we advise upon their privacy policies, protocols, and contractual clauses and we can also assist with the drafting of these.  Our experts are also available to advise journalists and the media upon their privacy documents, such as model release forms.  For our corporate clients, we risk assess and report upon potential privacy problem areas within their business.

McMillan Williams represents and advises clients in relation to copyright and moral rights.  Our expert lawyers assist clients in effectively using and exploiting their own copyrighted works.

We negotiate, draft and advise upon copyright licences and assignments. We also represent clients who wish to enforce their moral rights.  In addition, we advise in general about using copyright law for brand protection.

Copyright

Copyright is a property right. It subsists in original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, as well as sound recordings, films and broadcasts.  It also applies to typographical arrangements of published editions. No registration is needed in England for copyright to subsist in a work.  Photographs, graphic works, computer programs, architectural works, novels, databases, newspaper and magazine articles, poems, and a host of other works are copyrighted in England.

Copyright laws give copyright owners an exclusive set of rights, such as the right to copy the work, issue copies to the public, rent or lend work to the public, perform the work in public, and make adaptations of the work.

Moral Rights

Moral rights give the creator of a work the right to be identified, the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work, the right to object to false attribution of a work, and the right to privacy of certain photographs and films.

Infringement

With the advent of the internet, it became easier for others to take, use and store copyrighted works unlawfully, sadly this happens all too often.  We represent people and companies that have had their copyright infringed, and seek substantial damages in response, as well as the ceasing of the infringing actions.

Our clients include businesses, photographers, novelists, writers of corporate literature, biographers, musicians, artists, scriptwriters, cartoonists, and journalists.

McMillan Williams advises and represents corporate and individual clients on legal issues relating to the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).  The Act imposes various obligations on companies as well as other businesses and legal entities with regard to how they obtain, process, store, and share personal data about living individuals.

There are various data protection principles that govern how an entity must deal with personal data and it is unlawful to breach these.

We advise corporate clients upon data protection law, compliance, breaches, and documentation.  Our experts will assist in drafting documents such as data protection policies and protocols. We also assist by drafting data protection clauses in contracts.  In addition, we advise recipients of subject access requests upon the extent of necessary compliance.

Our experts are also happy to advise upon and draft subject access requests for individuals who are data subjects - ie, people about whom information is held or processed by another party.

Subject Access Rights

The Act conveys various rights upon data subjects. These rights are far ranging, but often vaguely expressed in the Act and difficult to interpret. In essence, data subjects have a right to be informed by any data controller whether it holds or processes data on them, and obtain from the data controller a description of the data, as well as a copy of the information in an intelligible form. The data subject can also request and receive information relating to the purposes for which the data are being held, the recipients or classes of recipients to whom it may be disclosed, and the source of the data.

Handling Data in Compliance with the Data Protection Act

Aside from their subject access rights, individuals can also seek to ensure that businesses, companies, employers and other entities are handling their data in compliance with the Data Protection Act.  When there is a breach of the Act, our lawyers specialise in both defending and pursuing complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, as well as litigation for compensation in the courts.  We also seek to ensure that breaches are set right as soon as possible, and that measures are put in place so that they are not repeated.

When there is a breach of the Act, our lawyers specialise in both defending and pursuing complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, as well as litigation for compensation in the courts. We also seek to ensure that breaches are set right as soon as possible, and that measures are put in place so that they are not repeated.

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the public has the right to access certain information held by public bodies.


Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

The Freedom of Information Act

The FOI Act does two things:

  1. It obliges public authorities to publish certain information about their activities; and

  2. It entitles members of the public to request information from public authorities.

Certain information is exempt from disclosure, and other information can be redacted from documents.  

We advise both public bodies and members of the public upon whether information falls into one of these exemptions, or whether it can be redacted.  Where a member of the public decides to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office about a public body withholding information from them, we can conduct those complaints on our clients' behalf.

Often we advise and represent journalists and media organisations in relation to freedom of information matters.

The Court has wide-ranging powers that allow it to enforce its authority and reprimand those who disobey the Court.  A judge can fine or even jail a person if they find them to be in contempt of court.  Typically someone held in Contempt of Court will have: 

  • deliberately breached injunctions or judgments

  • been disrespectful to court officers

  • been rude to a judge 

  • disrupted legal proceedings 

However, Contempt of Court is not a straightforward issue, and the Court will on occasion make an error when making a ruling that someone is in Contempt of Court.

Journalists and Contempt of Court

For instance, a judge cannot usually find a journalist guilty of contempt of court for refusing to disclose the sources of information, but there are exceptions to this legal rule, such as if disclosure is necessary 'in the interests of justice'.

How We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our experienced solicitors can assist and represent clients who are either concerned that they may fall foul of the law relating to Contempt of Court, or who already have had a ruling made against them.  If you are in any doubt call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

 

 

If you have been targeted by persistent and unwanted attention from a third party, there may have been an infringement of your legal right to be free from harassment.


Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

Harassment laws exist to prevent stalking and on occasion persistent and unpleasant conduct towards individuals by media organisations or journalists. They also protect individuals from being harassed by people on social media, or through another mode of communication.

We seek damages (ie, compensation) for clients who suffer anxiety and financial losses resulting from harassment. We also obtain injunctions for clients, to ensure the harassment ceases.

Our experts have successfully obtained judgments in court against those who harass, as well as out-of-court undertakings from them agreeing to cease their oppressive and unreasonable conduct towards our clients.

In addition, if you are being harassed by a journalist or media organisation, we can make a complaint on your behalf to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which handles complaints against the media for breaches of the Editors' Code of Practice. We also conduct complaints cases for clients in relation to breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which protects people from persistent infringements of their privacy by broadcasters.

We also specialise in seeking the removal of harassing material from social media websites, forums, and internet service providers through Cease and Desist notices.

Contact Us

Telephone 020 3551 8500
email email us
Client Feedback

Translate this page

enfrdeitptrues