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 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:
At MW, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are the victims of defamation, privacy and harassment.
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.
|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|
|The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement|
|Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro (NB: that the Mail Online and Metro.co.uk are excluded from the pilot)|
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.
Journalists and the Media are usually protected from defamation claims by “privilege” when they are reporting on public court proceedings.
This privilege is vital to allow the Media to do its job of publicising court cases, because despite the fact that many things that are said in court have defamatory meanings, in a society that has open justice the Media should be able to report upon court cases and how they are conducted. Such court reporting allows cases, judges, courts, and those who participate in proceedings to be placed under public scrutiny. A reporter of court proceedings represents the public, as their eyes and ears.
Sometimes though journalists who are reporting on court cases simply get their facts wrong. If an article reporting on court proceedings is not “fair and accurate”, the defence of privilege will fall away.
Court reports do not have to be verbatim in their coverage of court proceedings. Summaries of court proceedings can still be privileged, provided they give correct and just impressions of what took place in court. This means that they must provide substantially fair accounts of what took place in the court. They must convey to the reader the same impression they would have had if the reader themselves had been sitting in court.
Slight inaccuracies in court reporting are immaterial, if the whole report provides a substantially accurate account of what happened in the proceedings. Reports in the Media of court proceedings are not judged by the same strict standard of accuracy as reports by lawyers. A fair and reasonable latitude is given to the Media, otherwise publications would lose their safe vantage point from which to report on court proceedings.
Privilege does not apply however to court reports that contain substantial inaccuracies, even if these were caused by honest mistakes of the journalist.
At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including people who are referred to in Media coverage of court proceedings. We can, for instance, advise upon whether court reports are fair and accurate, and whether a journalist or Media outlet is likely to be protected by the law of privilege in relation to them.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 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.
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 individual and corporate clients on legal issues relating to the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The GDPR will apply in the United Kingdom from 25 May 2018 onwards, after which time the following will happen: the cap on fines for data breaches will increase from £500,000 to €10,000,000 (or 2% of global turnover), there will be a new accountability requirement, the issue of consent from data subjects will be strengthened, and individuals will have enhanced rights generally. There will be numerous other changes to the data protection regime in the UK that will be imposed by the GDPR.
As it stands under existing legislation and case law, there are already 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. For instance, there are various data protection principles that govern how an entity must deal with personal data. It is unlawful to breach them.
We act for individuals who think there has been a breach of their data protection rights. Our experts are also happy to advise upon and draft subject access requests for individuals who wish to obtain copies (for whatever reason) of their personal data that are held by others.
We also advise corporate clients upon data protection law, Codes, privacy notices, impact assessments, compliance, breaches, and documents. Our experts are happy to assist with drafting documents such as data protection policies and protocols. We also draft data protection clauses for various types of contracts. We are currently helping clients to prepare for the changes that will take place to the data protection regime after the GDPR becomes UK law.
Data protection law conveys various rights upon data subjects. These rights are far ranging, but often vaguely expressed in the DPA 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 to 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 they may be disclosed, and the source of the data.
Aside from their subject access rights, individuals can seek to ensure that businesses, companies, employers and other entities are handling their data in compliance with data protection law. When there is a breach of the law, our lawyers specialise in both defending and pursuing complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, as well as litigation for compensation and injunctions from the courts. We also seek to ensure that breaches are set right as soon as possible, and that measures are put in place to ensure that they are not repeated.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those individuals whose data rights have been breached or companies who need help ensuring that their data protection policies and processes are compliant with the DPA and GDPR.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the public has the right to access certain information held by public bodies.
The FOI Act does two things:
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.