Judgement on noseweek decision handed down

Publication of the fact that a person is a client of a specific bank does not infringe privacy rights, according to Cape Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso.

She made the finding in a written judgement, handed down this week, on a bid by FirstRand Bank to prevent investigative magazine noseweek publishing the names of clients involved in an allegedly dodgy offshore tax scheme.

Traverso heard and rejected the application for an interdict last month, but did not give reasons at the time.

The magazine, which according to Traverso had insinuated that FirstRand was run like a brothel, had also labelled the bank’s management ”pirates”.

It claimed that the bank, through its former offshore division Ansbacher, was running a fraudulent tax-evasion scheme for wealthy South African clients and promised to publish a ”choice selection” of their names.

FirstRand brought the application as what it said was a class action on behalf of the as-yet-unnamed clients, saying it wanted to protect their and its own right to privacy.

Traverso said the confidential nature of the relationship between a bank and its client had been recognised by legal authorities and by the law.

However, while the duty not to disclose rested with the bank, the privilege not to have the details of its dealings with the bank disclosed belonged with the client.

”It is therefore the client alone who can invoke this privilege,” she said.

”I do not believe that the publication of the fact that a person is a client of a specific bank can ever infringe the right of privacy of either the bank or the client.”

She said FirstRand had not shown it had the legal standing to appear for the clients in a class action, nor was there any indication that clients had been given an opportunity to ”opt out” of the action.

The clients could sue the magazine if they were defamed.

”Because each individual client will have recourse to interdict the publication of defamatory material or to claim a solatium for the allegation of defamation, this is not a situation where a class action will be apposite,” she said.

The magazine has published a list of scores of names in its November issue, which is already on sale. — Sapa

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Gauteng’s top matriculants excited about the future

All top learners from Gauteng received bursaries for their university education

Whistleblowers: Your testimony makes South Africa proud

Those brave people who speak truth to power elevate the Constitution to more than just a text.

Environmental education is in the syllabus but teaching it is...

Institutions and nonprofits have stepped in to provide training, manuals and other support.

Sub-Saharan Africa children show higher Covid-19 death rate than elsewhere

Infants younger than one year in Africa have nearly five times the risk of death than those aged 15 to 19 years after contracting the virus
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×