No violation of Article 8. The Court noted that the Norwegian Supreme Court had carefully balanced the right of freedom of expression with the right to respect for private life, and had explicitly taken into account the criteria set out in the Court’s case law. In such circumstances, although opinions may differ on the outcome of a judgment, the Court would require strong reasons to substitute its view for that of the domestic courts.
The Court reiterated general principles relating to private life and freedom of expression and the criteria relevant to the balancing exercise between Article 8 and 10 as set out in von Hannover (No.2) and Axel Springer AG. The latter were then applied to the facts of the case.
1. Contribution to a debate of general interest
The Court considered it useful to point out that it had recognised the existence of such an interest not only where the publication concerned political issues or crimes, but also where it concerned sporting issues or performing artists.
The Court accepted the majority’s reasoning that a wedding has a public side but went an important step further than the domestic court by stating that there was, therefore, an element of general interest in the article about the applicants’ wedding.
2. Notoriety of the persons concerned
Although the applicants had no public community functions, they were well-known performing artists, and accordingly public figures.
3. Prior conduct of the person concerned
There was no information available to the Court about the applicants’ conduct prior to the publication of the article. In any event, the mere fact of having cooperated with the press on previous occasions could not serve as an argument for depriving a party of all protection against publication of the photograph at issue. The Court referred to the view of the Supreme Court that the right to protection of privacy is no weaker for well-known cultural personalities than it is for others.
4. Method of obtaining the information and its veracity/circumstances in which the photographs were taken
It was not in dispute that the applicants had not consented to the publication of the photographs or the accompanying article, which the photographer had obtained by hiding and using a strong telephoto lens from a distance.
The Court accepted the Supreme Court’s view that the very unusual way in which the wedding was organised and the fact that the ceremony took place in an area accessible to the public were elements which should be given a certain amount of weight.
5. Content, form and consequences of the publication
The Court appeared to endorse the Supreme Court’s finding that neither the text nor the photographs in the disputed magazine article contained anything unfavourable to the applicants. The article did not contain any criticism, nor was there anything in the content that could damage their reputation. There were no photographs of the actual marriage ceremony either. It noted however, the view of the Supreme Court that, had there been photographs of the actual wedding ceremony, such a situation would clearly have had more personal significance than photographs showing the bridal couple arriving at or leaving the place where the wedding took place.