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  • Writer's pictureKahmile Reid

A PR Perspective: The Cost of Privacy During Litigation

Privacy is a social norm; it is actually a qualified human right under the ECHR and must be treated as such. In practice, however, people in the media – both traditional and social – have become somewhat abusive with their power to find and share information. Increasingly this power is used with peripheral considerations for privacy.

Among the pervading issues in the communication industry, especially for public relations practitioners, is that of the protection of clients’ privacy. Whether the client is an individual or an organisation, not all information is for public consumption at certain points in time.

In this context, the burden of a public relations practitioner is to contain and coordinate information while remaining ethical and forthcoming with the press.

When there is a breach of privacy, would it be cost effective to pursue an injunction, a trial, or would it make sense to consider the overall cost and settle out of court?

The issue of cost is a major deterrent to pursuing the path of litigation more often than not.

There is always a risk when a client decides to do either of the three.

The cost of pursuing a matter in court may far outweigh the cost of settling out of court as both parties can be made to pay hefty legal bills after a decision has been handed down. In the name of brevity, i just want to point out the following in favour of an out of court settlement.

  • Remember that even a great case is at risk of being lost on a technicality.

  • The client must also consider that courts are public spaces and unless the matter is in-camera, much if not all information that comes out is reportable.

  • Clients may find themselves in multiple legal battles or being the subject of negative articles coming from different angles. The court of public opinion never disappoints when it comes to fueling negativity.

  • The matter of how court cases may affect one’s family is also a consideration.

In the end, the court can be the best and worst route to reconciliation, sometimes in equal measure.


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