Top Barristers on Display in Viewing Platform Privacy Case

The Supreme Court has handed down its judgment in Fearn and others v Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery. Read more about the case and the barristers involved.

Published on 7 February 2023
Written by Cavan Ferguson
Cavan Ferguson

What was the case about?

The Tate Modern is an art museum located on Bankside in London. The Blavatnik Building, which opened in 2016, forms part of the museum. On the top floor of the building there is a viewing terrace which offers visitors panoramic views of the River Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral. The terrace also overlooks the neighbouring NEO Bankside apartments and allows visitors to look into residents’ homes.

This prompted a group of flat owners to take legal action, seeking an injunction requiring the museum to prevent members of the public observing their glass-walled flats, or an award of damages.

What was the result of the case?

The claimants were unsuccessful at the High Court and Court of Appeal. However, following a hearing in 2021, the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal decision to dismiss the residents’ claim.

Lord Leggatt gave the majority opinion and made the following remark:

On [the trial judge’s] findings it is beyond doubt that the viewing and photography which take place from the Tate’s building cause a substantial interference with the ordinary use and enjoyment of the claimants’ properties.

The court held, with a 3 to 2 majority, that the Tate Modern’s use of the viewing terrace gives rise to liability to the claimants under the common law of nuisance. The case will now be sent back to the High Court where an appropriate remedy will be determined.

Who were the barristers involved in the case?

Acting for the appellants and instructed by Forsters LLP were Tom Weekes KC and Richard Moules of Landmark Chambers and Jacob Dean of 5RB.

Guy Fetherstonhaugh KC of Falcon Chambers, Aileen McColgan KC of 11KBW and Elizabeth Fitzgerald, also of Falcon Chambers, were instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP to act for the respondent.

The barristers appearing in this case are ranked in the Chambers UK Bar Guide 2023 in our Real Estate Litigation and Defamation/Privacy tables. The full list of Chambers recommended sets and barristers for Real Estate Litigation in London can be found here. Likewise, the list of Chambers’ recommended privacy barristers can be found here.

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