Vidal-Hall v Google [2015] EWCA Civ 311

This case involved three individuals who objected to the collection of information from their browsers by Google without their consent.

They brought legal proceedings against Google for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 (‘DPA’). As Google is a corporation registered in Delaware, and the Claimants are domiciled in England, it was necessary to obtain permission to serve proceedings outside the jurisdiction.

On 12 June 2013, Master Yoxall granted such permission and the Defendant applied to set aside the decision. The Defendant argued that there was no good arguable case that the claims met the test set out in CPR PD 6B and there was no serious issue to be tried. The application was dismissed in relation to the misuse of private information and the DPA claims. The Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

There were four questions to be considered:

  1. Is misuse of private information a tort for the purposes of service of proceedings out of the jurisdiction?
  2. Can there be a claim for compensation without pecuniary loss in relation to damage under section 13 of the DPA?
  3. Does ‘browser generated information’ as personal data under the DPA constitute ‘a serious issue to be tried’?
  4. In relation to the claims for misuse of private information and under the DPA, is there a real and substantial cause of action?

The cases mentioned, or made reference to, in this podcast are:

Vidal-Hall v Google [2014] EWHC 13 (QB)

Kitechnology BV v Unicor GmbH Plastmachinen [1995] FSR 765

Campbell v MGN [2004] 2 AC 457

OBG Limited and others v Allan and others; Douglas and another and others v Hello! Limited and others; Mainstream Properties Limited v Young and others and another [2008] 1 AC 1

McKennitt v Ash [2008] QB 73

Murray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd [2008]

Imerman v Tchenguiz [2010] EWCA Civ 908

Johnson v Medical Defence Union [2007] 96 BMLR 99

Leitner v TUI Deutschland GmbhH & Co KG ECR [2002] ERC 1-1631

Benkharbouche v Embassy of Sudan [2015] EWCA Civ 33