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Staff Profile

Mr Thomas Bennett

(email at t.d.c.bennett@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

Tom is a lecturer at Newcastle Law School, and holds degrees from Newcastle (LL.B) and City University (LL.M). He was called to the Bar in 2009 (Inner Temple). His primary research interests lie in the right to privacy and judicial method in developing the common law.

 

Tom’s Ph.D thesis is principally concerned with the judicial development of the common law as it relates to privacy. Lord Irvine’s view, as the HRA 1998 was passed, was that the judiciary were “pen-poised” to develop a law of privacy. Despite some early academic enthusiasm surrounding the emergence of “misuse of private information” as a head of liability in Campbell v MGN Ltd (2004), the courts have refused to recognise either a general tort of privacy or general right to privacy capable of underpinning further discrete torts plugging gaps in protection for this right. The thesis asks why, and what can be done about it? Examination of the post-HRA privacy doctrine reveals the presence of three (slightly overlapping, but conceptually distinguishable) “barriers” to the development of a general privacy tort. The thesis sets out to critique all three, in the process engaging with constitutional objections to judicial “activism”, problems of linguistic indeterminacy surrounding the word “privacy” and the issue of judicial “procrastination”. It argues that these barriers, however, whilst seemingly entrenched in the judicial mind-set, are not insurmountable. What is required is the greater exercise of imagination – specifically a notion of “legal imagination” – and the thesis offers an account of this concept, explaining its relevance to the operations of the common law.

Selected Publications

Is supervised by