Balancing Freedom of Expression and Privacy: The Jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court

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The European Court of Human Rights has on several occasions had to balance the right to freedom of expression and the right to respect for private life, both of which are guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Balancing two rights is a complex process, different from determining whether an important public interest or policy justifies limiting a right. The Court has adopted a distinctive approach to balancing these rights, asking whether the national court struck a fair balance between them. It is however unclear how this approach relates to its traditional approach to the interpretation of qualified rights under which it examines whether it was necessary, or proportionate, for the national authority to limit exercise of the Convention right. The Court's jurisprudence in this area is open to some criticism, but balancing is inevitable, unless either the claims of freedom of expression or privacy are to be ignored.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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