Court defends magazine 'rich lists'
The media have the right to publish the estimated fortunes of the super-rich, a Munich court ruled this week in a landmark decision pitting privacy against the public’s right to know.
The court on Thursday threw out the complaint by a wealthy man against Manager Magazine, which had published the man’s name and assets as part of an annual ranking that listed Germany’s richest people along with their estimated worth.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Christian Schertz, said he aimed to bring about a fundamental change in the way the law dealt with such information. Lists of wealthy people are popular and commonly used by business publications and in the popular press.
“A private man does not have to put up with appearing in such a public hit parade,” he said.
The complainant also challenged the magazine over what he argued were inaccurate figures about his net worth.
But judge Thomas Steiner rejected the complaint on the grounds that there is legitimate public interest in the assets of people who are worth more than €100 million, or even €1 billion, as well as the origins of their fortunes.
Steiner agreed that details published naturally needed to be correct. But given the complainant had refused to make public his assets, the accuracy of Manager Magazine’s estimates could not be confirmed either way, he said.
Konstantin Wegner, representing Manager Magazine’s publisher, said rich people simply had “to put up with it.”