The Right to Privacy: A Doctrinal and Comparative Analysis by Hilary Delany & Eoin Carolan

Date01 January 2008
AuthorReview By John O'Dowd, School Of Law, UCD
Thomson Round Hall, 2008, xxxviii and 352pp. (hbk 180.00)
(with a contribution on French privacy law by
Cliodhna Murphy 171–189)
ISBN 978–1–85800–508–9
John O’Dowd
Dr Delany and Dr Carolan’s work is a significant contribution not just to
the study of, and public debate about, the law of privacy in Ireland, but on
an international scale. Any work, such as t his one, which examines this
topic in Irish law, from a comparative perspective has the potential to be of
significance outside Ireland for several reasons. The most notable is Ireland’s
unusual position as a jurisdiction in which the long-recognised horizontal
effect of constitutional rights (including an unenumerated con stitutional
right to privacy) has to be grafted on to the common law. It is the authors’
great achievement that its value to readers inside Ireland and beyond flows
not just from these intrinsic aspects of the to pic, but from th eir extremely
perceptive and clear analysis of the nature of the interests which privacy law
should protect, which is as relevant and should be as influential in any other
democratic legal system as it is in Ireland. It is the nature of a work on such
a relatively novel topic that it is in some respects rapidly overtaken by
events, but a comparison of developments in the year since the publication
of this book only confirms the value of the authors’ insights and analysis.
The focus of the book is on privacy as a fundamental rig ht, in the first
instance as an aspect of Irish constitutional law, but also in a comparative
framework. The bedrock of the study is Chapter 1 (pp 1–32), a conceptual
analysis of privacy a nd forms of protection which t he law may accord i t.
Because of the centra l importanc e of that element of the book it deserves
separate attention; the other chapters may be summarised as follows:
protection of privacy under the Constitution of Ireland (Ch 2, pp 3 3–91);
a comparative review of privacy torts in the USA, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, England and Wales (Ch 3, pp 92–136); an analysis of the Privacy
Bill (also Ch 3); th e manner in which pr ivacy (A rticle 8 ) and freedom of
expression (Art 10) are balanced under the European Convention on
Human Rights (Article 10) (Ch 4, pp 137–170) ; the protection of privacy
in French law, German law, through the English and Irish law on breach of
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