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The right to be forgotten – in practice

Right to be forgotten image

Case category:

Misuse of Private Information and breach of Data Protection Act provisions

Case description:

These claims were brought by two business persons with prior criminal convictions. Sufficient time has passed such that the convictions are officially considered spent. An order was sought for Google to remove search results relating to the convictions on the grounds that such information was inaccurate and/or no longer relevant and/or of no public interest. The claimants were granted anonymity and referred to as NT1 & NT2. The claimants also sought damages.

Claim summary:

Claims such as these are test cases for a number of similar ones waiting in the wings for claims against Google in relation to data protection and the right to a private life. The judgment will have significant ramifications for both claimants and online publishers.


The main focus of the judgment was to establish the factors relevant to search result de-listing requests including the right to privacy and rehabilitation of offenders, balanced against the protection of the public interest. The weighting of those factors was also considered in addition to the accuracy of the data.

Warby J identified that the rehabilitation of offenders should carry significant weight during assessment, recognising that: “with the passage of time, a conviction may recede into the past so as to become part of a person’s private life”. Conversely, where the conviction relates to business crime and has an element of dishonesty, combined with the individual continuing in a similar line of business post-conviction and never acknowledging guilt, the information from the past which is searchable through Google may still be relevant to the public.


Usually an order to remove search results is secured (and potentially also damages), interest, costs, disbursements and VAT.

In our view:

Matthew Pascall, Senior Underwriting Manager at Temple Legal Protection – “The Commercial Underwriting team at Temple Legal Protection has worked in partnership with Carter-Ruck for a number of years supporting many of their high profile litigation matters. Our ATE insurance for defamation and privacy cases is provided to Carter-Ruck as a delegated authority scheme. They particularly value Temple’s experience and support for their work at the leading edge of defamation and privacy claims.

The Solicitor’s view:

Dominic Garner, Senior Associate at Carter-Ruck – “These particular cases was unusual because of the complex, and previously untested, legal framework that they considered. These cases were among the first but are unlikely to be the last. Aside from insuring the claims in the first place, we know we can rely on Temple to back our judgement. We receive rapid responses from their Underwriting decision makers and our shared experience in this sector of this type of litigation resulted in another successful outcome.

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