Sunday Mirror loses bid to avoid privacy case in France

Kylie Minogue and then boyfriend Olivier Martinez in 2003
Image caption The Sunday Mirror published a story claiming Olivier Martinez had reunited with Kylie Minogue

The UK's Sunday Mirror has lost its bid to stop Kylie Minogue's French ex-boyfriend Olivier Martinez suing it in France for alleged breach of privacy.

European judges ruled he could seek damages in any EU member where the online story was accessible.

Judges in France will also next month decide whether the News of the World breached the privacy of Max Mosley, filmed with prostitutes at a 2008 orgy.

Both rulings could have far-reaching implications for the British press.

In 2008 the Sunday Mirror website published a story that Olivier Martinez, an actor, had re-united with ex-girlfriend Kylie Minogue, a story he believed infringed his right to privacy.

Landmark ruling

Mr Martinez launched legal action against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) alleging interference with his private life and infringement of his right to his image.

MGN lawyers had argued the connection between the online publication of the information in the UK and the alleged damage in France was insufficiently close.

But on Tuesday, Judges at the European Court of Justice ruled that the placing of content on a website was different from "the regional distribution of printed matter" because the online material "can be consulted by an indefinite number of internet users worldwide".

The EU judges ruled that the court best placed to assess the potential impact on an individual's "personality rights" might be the court where the individual had his "centre of interests" or "habitual residence".

That court would have "jurisdiction in respect of all damage caused within the territory of the EU", they said.

However, if appellants chose to "bring an action before the courts of each member state in the territory of which the online content is or has been accessible" any compensation awarded by national courts could only relate to damage caused in their jurisdictions, they said.

The BBC's Paris correspondent, Christian Fraser, says in a sense their ruling is already about to be tested.

In November, former motorsport world governing body chief Max Mosley will discover whether he has won a battle against the News of the World in Paris over an article the now-closed newspaper published about his sexual practices in 2008.

He has already won a privacy battle against the News of the World in the British courts, but brought a separate action because copies of the newspaper and the video of him at a sadomasochistic orgy were circulated in France.

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