22nd February 2018

Landmark win in the High Court against Channel 5 for invasion of privacy on the TV show ‘Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away’

By Christopher Hutchings

Our media team has won a landmark case against Channel 5 for the TV programme Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away, which went to a full Trial in the High Court earlier this month.

The case:

Channel 5, who broadcast the observational documentary series, were sued for invasion of privacy by our clients Shakir Ali and Shahida Aslam, a married couple. Our clients were filmed being lawfully evicted from the inside of their home. The husband was not fully dressed, was on crutches and in a vulnerable state due to ongoing medical treatment.  The couple also claimed that they were verbally baited by the landlord’s son during the course of the filmed eviction. The resulting programme was broadcast to an estimated 9 million viewers in total through re-runs of the episode over a course of two years, resulting in significant distress and ongoing humiliation for the couple and their wider family.

The judgment:

The Judge presiding over the case, Justice Arnold, held that our clients did have a reasonable expectation of privacy outweighing the right of the TV company to freedom of expression.  He held that whilst the programme itself contributed to a debate of general interest, this did not justify the extensive inclusion of such intrusive footage of the claimant’s private lives.

Justice Arnold also noted in his judgment that in this broadcast of Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away:

“The focus of the Programme was not upon matters of public interest, but upon the drama of the conflict between Omar Ahmed and the Claimants, a conflict which had been encouraged by Mr Bohill a High Court Enforcement Agent who appears on the show to make “good television” “

Justice Arnold held that ultimately the restriction against Channel 5’s Article 10 right to freedom of expression and information was justified in favour of protecting our clients Article 8 right to respect for one’s private life.

A landmark win:

This case is ground-breaking in setting a precedent as to the rights and freedom of reality TV and observational documentary producers and broadcasters. This judgment will help determine the extent to which producers and broadcasters can use non-consenting footage of the general public in their TV shows, and the extent to which this can be justified by reference to the public interest.

For other coverage see:

The Daily Mail

The Guardian

The Sun


For further details of this please  see the page  Can’t Pay We’ll Take it Away Privacy Claims or contact media partner Chris Hutchings on 020 7355 6000 or email  

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