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DEFAMATION

Protection of personal rights in general

The Czech legal system belongs to the continental European approach to personal rights. It is influenced by German legal theory, as suggested by the creation of the general personality right and doctrine of natural law. However, it is most similar to the Austrian Civil Code, from which it originally arose.

The Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms[1] provides for privacy rights protection. It provides for general protection of inviolability of the person and of privacy that may be limited only in cases specified by law. Article 10 states, “(1) Everybody is entitled to protection of his or her human dignity, personal integrity, good reputation, and his or her name. (2) Everybody is entitled to protection against unauthorized interference in his or her personal and family life. (3) Everybody is entitled to protection against unauthorized gathering, publication or other misuse of his or her personal data.” Article 13 states, “Nobody may violate secrecy of letters and other papers and records whether privately kept or sent by post or in another manner, except in cases and in a manner specified by law. Similar protection is extended to messages communicated by telephone, telegraph or other such facilities.”

These fundamental rights are subject to specification in acts. The core act for the protection of personhood is the Civil Code.

The Czech civil system is based on the rule of written law. The judgments are not binding – with the exception of the Constitutional Court rulings – nor are the academic commentaries. The parliament cannot issue any binding recommendation on how the law should be applied. The legal terms used in acts are explained in the act itself if necessary. From the above cited Article 11 it can be seen that neither of the used aspects of personality is defined; it is therefore subject to society’s general perception, represented by a judge, to rule what falls under the notion of privacy. This perception could be corrected only by the Constitutional Court judgments, the decisions of which are followed. According to the Constitutional Court core decision, the definition and scope of the right of privacy established that the primary function of the right to respect for private life is to provide conditions for development and fulfilment of individual autonomous personality. In addition to the traditional definition of privacy in its spatial dimensions (protection of privacy of homes in its broad sense) and in connection with the existence of an autonomous public authority and undisturbed creation of social relationship (marriage, family, in society), the right to respect for private life includes the guarantee of self-determination in the sense of decision making of his or herself. The right to privacy also guarantees the right of individuals to decide at their own discretion whether, eventually, to what extent, how and under what circumstances the personal or private information should be made available to public.[5]

At the top of the hierarchy of the binding documents however stands the European legislation and case law of European Courts; therefore the highest authority in the Czech Republic in respect of perception of privacy is the European Court of Human Rights.


[1] Act No. 2/1993 Coll., the Charter of fundamental rights and freedoms, part of the Constitution.

[2] Act No. 40/1964 Coll., the Civil Code in translation http://www.janvalenta.cz/korpus/doku.php?id=civil_code

[3] 1. Documents of personal nature, portraits, pictures and image and sound records concerning an individual or expressions of his personal nature may be taken or used only with his or her consent.

2. The consent shall not be required if the documents of personal nature, portraits, pictures and image and sound records are to be used for official purposes on the basis of an act.

3. Portraits, pictures and image and sound records may be taken or used without the consent of the individual adequately also for purposes of science or art and for the purposes of press, motion picture, radio and television news service. However, such use must not be at variance with lawful interests of the individual.

[4] Švestka J., Spáčil J., Škárová M., Hulmák M. a kolektiv, Velké komentáře, Občanský zákoník I., § 1 – 459 komentář, C.H. Beck v Praze, 1. vydání 2008.

[5] I. ÚS 453/03.

 

 

Children

The right of child not to be a target of the media

The Supreme Court decidion 30 Cdo 3770/2011: Despite the parent of the child put the child on a media spot, it does not mean that the the media cannot breach the personality rights of the child. There is ageneral requirement that the privacy of the child cannot be harm even by the parent.

The breach of the privacy when the child of the celebrity is photographed attanding the school.

The use of the expression “doughnut” in depicting the child of the ceebrity that is overweight is a breach of his or her privacy, dignity.

Honor and dignity

The Supreme Court 30 Cdo 5161/2008 : The exercise of the criticism is not an unwarranted interference into the honour and dignity of the critized individual if the critisms does not overstep boundries of the factual and specific criticism. The critism is proportionate if the form, scope and place does not overstep the aim. Factual critism is based only on true facts.

Image

Supreme Court 30 Cdo 936/2005: The image of an individua lis protected if the portrayal is so concrete that the person is identifiable. An individual has a right to use, dispose, have and protect the unauthorized use of the image.

Name

The Supreme Court, 30 Cdo 2306/1999: The right of own name is protects the name in a broad sense. The notion of the name comprises of the surname (family name), first name but also of the pseudonym or nick name. Under certain condition the protection is afforded just part of the name if it is so connected to the person that it creates the individual specification.

The right of own name is the exclusive right to have a name, use it, dispose of it and protect it against unauthorized use. (dare, facere, omittere, pati)

Privacy

Constitutional Court I. ÚS 321/06: Right of protection of the private life comprises right of individual to decide according his or her own will what and in what scope to make private information public. Public interest and the protection of the rights of other’s are the options to minimize the right of individual decision. Right of protection of private life encompases the family life and right to build the relationship

Case law

This page features regular postings on leading cases in respect of the protected aspects of personality. The postings are intended to present the established judicial approach to the protection and keep  up-to-date as possible in the lastest development in this area. The cases in the Czech Republic are not available in any foreign language, I am therefore presenting the cases in my own translation and in my own created database. I hope and intend that the blog will be a useful source of current information to the international audience.

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Barrister

Dear readers and followers, I would like to make an announcement that I have opened my own legal office. The website of the office is www.ondrejova.cz

SHORT NEWS

Ferdinand Peroutka granddaughter has filed a defamation claim against the Czech state because of President Miloš Zeman’s public defamatory statements about Czech most famous journalist who was during the WWII held in concentration camp and in 1951 emigrated due to communistic regime.

Ringier AG and AXEL SPRINGER AG sold the main and the most successful publishing house in the Czech rep. (the tabloid newspaper BLESK, AHA, REFLEX) to CNC.

Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft sold one of the main serious publishing house in the Czech rep.

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