“Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!” summary judgment application dismissed

Privacy claim to proceed to trial

An application by Channel 5 for summary judgment in a privacy claim brought against it arising from a broadcast of Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! has been dismissed.

Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! is a long running series which reveals “the dramatic stories of British people on the sharp end of bad debt.”

The Claimants are a married couple.  They complain that an edition of the programme which showed them being evicted from their home constituted a misuse of their private information.

The eviction was carried out in accordance with a court order.  The broadcast showed events from the moment of entry to the Claimants’ home by the bailiffs.  The Claimants were given one hour to leave the property.  Their preparations to leave were broadcast, as was their departure.

The Claimants principally complain that the broadcast of film of the inside of their home, including of the bedrooms and bathroom, and of them gathering up their possessions and arranging new accommodation whilst being harangued by a representative of their landlord, constituted a misuse of their private information.  In particular, they complain about the loss of dignity caused to them by the broadcast of such information.

Channel 5’s case is that the Claimants had no reasonable expectation of privacy in regard to the information in issue and that, if they had, there was a stronger public interest in broadcasting information concerning how bailiffs (formally known as High Court Enforcement Officers) go about their work and how people who fail to pay their rent are dealt with.

Channel 5 did not establish that the claim does not have a real prospect of success.

5RB’s William Bennett (instructed by Hamlins LLP) acted for the Claimants and Tom Blackburn for Channel 5.