Cause of action limited to natural persons

Proposal 9–2 The new Act should provide that the new tort be limited to natural persons.

9.33 The ALRC proposes that the statutory cause of action for serious invasion of privacy be limited to natural persons.[28] This means that corporations, government agencies or other organisations[29] would not have standing to sue for invasions of privacy. This was unanimously recommended by previous Australian law reform inquiries.[30] Actions in defamation, which are analogous to privacy actions, are also generally limited to living, natural persons.[31]

9.34 An action in privacy is designed to remedy a personal, dignitary interest. It would be incongruous to assign this interest to a corporation or other body. In Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats, Gummow and Hayne JJ suggested in obiter that any common law tort of privacy (were one to develop in Australian law), should be confined to natural persons as corporations lack the ‘sensibilities, offence and injury which provide a staple value for any developing law of privacy’.[32]