Romana Canneti

Romana Canneti
Romana Canneti

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Romana specialises in media and employment law. She accepts instructions in a range of other civil and regulatory matters.

Romana is listed in 2022 and 2023 editions of the Legal500 as a Leading Junior for privacy and defamation.

L500 L Jnr


More about Romana

Having spent several years working in-house for media organisations, Romana returned to private practice in 2018. Her work spans all aspects of media and entertainment law, including defamation, copyright, intellectual property, privacy, misuse of private information and data protection/GDPR. She combines legal acuity with a practical understanding of the priorities of newsrooms and publishers and how they operate.

She has represented media organisations at all levels, from the Supreme Court to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey).

Romana is an experienced advocate in the Employment Tribunal, and has a busy practice acting for both claimants and respondents. She specialises in discrimination cases, and has won significant awards for claimants who have included the CFO of a multi-national company registered in the UK. She has also successfully represented respondents - most recently a major public transport company - in matters ranging from unfair dismissal to discrimination. She is regularly instructed in multi-day hearings involving complex discrimination, unfair dismissal, TUPE and other issues including trade union detriment and other forms of victimisation. She has successfully resisted proposed anonymity orders sought by the respondents in a sexual harassment claim. Meticulous preparation and a forensic approach to the weaknesses in the other side’s case have led to repeat instructions.

Romana has long had a particular interest in open justice and transparency. Between 2009 and 2016, she led a series of challenges by media consortia which resulted in journalists being allowed to attend and report on previously closed proceedings in the Court of Protection. A pilot project subsequently brought its rules in line with those governing media access to family proceedings.

In the criminal courts, she has challenged reporting restrictions on behalf of media organisations, and averted a threatened referral to the Attorney General for contempt.

She has a strong track record advising on – and where necessary – challenging the many other varieties of reporting restriction affecting media coverage of criminal and family courts, army disciplinary proceedings and employment proceedings.

Romana also accepts instructions in public and education law. She has acted for residents seeking statutory review of a local authority’s decision to extend a controlled parking zone to their area, and for the governors of a SEN School responding to a letter of complaint from the Secretary of State for Education who brought a counter-complaint.

Romana has significant experience in regulatory matters, having represented a police force in disciplinary proceedings against an officer who had acquired a criminal conviction and was accused of gross misconduct. She recently opposed a privacy application by a law enforcement officer facing a allegation of gross misconduct and - having appeared on behalf of the appropriate authority in the related professional misconduct hearing - secured the desired outcome of summary dismissal.

She regularly advises broadcasters on compliance with the Ofcom Code.

She is frequently asked to draft and advise on contractual and commercial issues, particularly those – contentious or otherwise - relating to film and television productions and podcasts.

Defamation, Privacy and Data Protection

Romana is listed as a Leading Junior in Defamation and Privacy in the 2022 edition of the Legal 500.

Thanks to her wide-ranging experience in both in-house and private practice, she offers an unusual understanding of contentious media-related issues from the perspective of both claimant and defendant.

She was co-instructed by the Media Lawyers Association to intervene in the two leading test cases heard by the Supreme Court since the Defamation Act 2013 came into force. Both interventions successfully saw off restrictive challenges to the scope of the Act, and were welcomed by supporters of freedom of expression: Lachaux v IPL & ES Ltd, [2019] UKSC 27 established that a claimant must demonstrate on the facts that ‘serious harm’ has been caused – or is likely to be caused - to their reputation by the publication of a defamatory statement; Serafin v Malciewicz [2020] UKSC 23 established the flexibility of the 2103 Act’s statutory defence available to those making a defamatory statement in the public interest.

Before joining 4KBW in 2018, Romana had worked for ten years as a legal adviser at The Independent – initially freelancing, but later as an employee. There she defended libel, privacy and copyright claims for the IPL group, which acquired the Evening Standard and later launched the i newspaper. During her time there, she also dealt with contracts and other commercial issues, including regulatory ASA matters and PCC (now IPSO) complaints.

For over two decades, Romana has also regularly advised book publishers, newspapers and broadcasters (including ITN, the BBC, Channel 5, Associated Newspapers Limited, The Telegraph Group, Times Newspapers and News Group Newspapers) on pre-publication and pre-broadcast law and compliance. She advises on matters ranging from defamation, privacy GDPR compliance and data protection to fair-dealing and the permissible use of copyrighted material.

Selected Matters

  • DEFAMATION: Co-instructed by the Media Lawyers Association to intervene in in the Supreme Court hearing of Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd and Another [2019] UKSC 27. This important test case clarified the meaning of the ‘serious harm’ threshold set by the Defamation Act 2013. The outcome was a significant triumph for freedom of expression: the Supreme Court agreed with the MLA’s submissions (and those of the defendant publishers) that a claimant must prove that his reputation has, or is likely to, suffer serious harm in order to be able to sue in libel.
  • DEFAMATION: Co-instructed by the Media Lawyers Association to intervene in the Supreme Court hearing of Serafin v Malkiewicz and others [2020] UKSC 23, a test case that expanded the ambit of the public interest defence provided by section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013 and represented a significant victory for freedom of expression.
  • COPYRIGHT/DEFAMATION/PRIVACY: Regularly instructed by several of the UK’s largest book publishing groups to draft detailed advisory pre-publication legal reports on a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, drafting written reports which are followed –where necessary - by further advice and guidance on any issues arising (whether in relation to GDPR, privacy, breach of confidence, defamation, copyright or threatened legal action).
  • COPYRIGHT: Instructed by one of the world’s leading news websites to defend a copyright claim. After an initial hearing – in which the demerits of the claim were succinctly highlighted - the claimant discontinued the claim.
  • COPYRIGHT: Advised on a licensing/copyright matter affecting an SME IT business.
  • BREACH OF CONFIDENCE/GDPR/MISUSE OF PRIVATE INFORMATION/BREACH OF CONTRACT: Acted for a defendant in a High Court claim brought by a wealthy industrialist and his wife, pursuant to an injunction. The claim was settled, after a costs application, by way of a Tomlin Order.
  • BREACH OF CONFIDENCE/GDPR/MISUSE OF PRIVATE INFORMATION: advised a claimant in a GDPR/privacy/confidence claim arising from an alleged sexual assault. An offer of settlement ensued.
  • DEFAMATION, HARASSMENT, DATA PROTECTION/PRIVACY: Advised a television presenter who had been defamed and harassed by a series of social media posts; drafted letter before action. The person responsible subsequently removed the posts and a Norwich Pharmacal Application is pending to identify the person responsible.
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: Advised a major publishing group on the various data protection implications arising from the leak of extensive unredacted instant messaging communications between members of an affiliated political party, and on the steps necessary to avert threatened legal action;
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: Assisted the claimant in achieving a settlement and the removal of sensitive personal information in the US edition of the memoir of a former sexual partner who is a performing artist;
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: Advised a magazine publisher – having been provisionally instructed to draft a defence – on a data protection/privacy claim brought by a well-known actor involving the alleged publication of personal data (the claim was disposed of by way of a Tomlin Order days before the defence was due to be drafted and filed);
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: Assisted the defendant in a high value data protection and misuse of private information claim, which pursuant to a Tomlin Order, was withdrawn;
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: represented a police force in various GDPR matters, drafting responses to letters before action and averting threatened proceedings.
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION/ PRIVACY: instructed by a national fundraising organisation to draft a response to a letter before action – no claim ensued.
  • GDPR/DATA PROTECTION: Regularly provide advice to broadcast and print media on data protection and the applicability of the journalistic exemption.
  • OPEN JUSTICE: Drafted submissions for a Press Association journalist which successfully resisted a last-minute application in a £6m High Court psychiatric damage claim aimed at preventing the media reporting the claimant’s name.
  • OPEN JUSTICE: Instructed by the MLA to draft submissions to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee relating to the passage through Parliament of the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill. Certain measures to protect media rights were subsequently incorporated into the Act, which was passed on 12 February 2019.
  • OPEN JUSTICE: Drafted the MLA’s response to a Home Office consultation seeking the views of interested parties (in this case the media) to draft Codes of Practice to the Counter- Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, as well as modifications to the existing Code of Practice to the Terrorism Act 2000. The Codes include provisions governing police and port authorities’ access to journalists’ material and sources.
  • OPEN JUSTICE: Instructed by a media consortium to appear at the Old Bailey to resist proposed witness anonymity orders in a high-profile terrorism trial.
  • CONTEMPT OF COURT: Appeared at the Old Bailey on behalf of a broadcaster threatened with a possible referral for contempt. The matter was explained to the judge’s satisfaction and no action was taken.

Employment Law

 Recent instructions

  • Successfully represented the former CFO of a major financial services company in a high value claim for unpaid wages in the Employment Tribunal.
  • Appeared for the claimant in a seven-day Employment Tribunal hearing against a financial institution involving disability discrimination, breach of contract, unfair dismissal and religious discrimination. The Tribunal found for the claimant on all issues other than religious discrimination.
  • Successfully resisted an unfair dismissal claim brought against a major transport infrastructure company, in a multi-day hearing.
  • Successfully resisted a constructive unfair dismissal claim brought against a travel agency in the Bengali community, the judge finding after a four-day hearing that a resignation denied to have taken place did in fact happen and was effective.
  • Acted for the Respondent in a multi-day constructive unfair dismissal trial centring on the employment status of the claimants, who were - respectively – a co-founder of the Respondent company and his wife. Although the judge found that both were employees – largely based on the unusual circumstances in which employee status was conceded before the claimants had resigned - the contributory conduct of the first claimant resulted in a 100% deduction from any damages due.
  • Acted for the Claimant in an unfair dismissal and discrimination claim, in which the judge found – contrary to the two Respondents’ denials - that a dismissal had occurred immediately before a TUPE transfer. A settlement for a significant five-figure sum was subsequently offered to and accepted by the Claimant.
  • Appeared for the claimant at an Employment Tribunal preliminary hearing, successfully resisting the Respondent’s application that a sex discrimination claim was out of time, and obtaining amendments to the Particulars of Claim that added maternity discrimination to a constructive dismissal claim.
  • Instructed by the claimant in a high value employment claim involving alleged disability and beliefs discrimination and unfair dismissal. A favourable settlement negotiated to the client’s satisfaction was achieved.
  • Represented the respondent, a charity, in a discrimination, bullying and harassment claim. A favourable settlement negotiated to the client’s satisfaction followed the pre-trial hearing.
  • OPEN JUSTICE: Instructed to represent the claimant in a case against a high-profile legal professional, whose application for a closed hearing was successfully opposed, as was their strike-out application. A favourable settlement ensued.
  • Represented the claimant in a pregnancy-related discrimination, bullying and unfair dismissal claim. The claim settled after a preliminary hearing in which the respondent’s strike-out application was resisted and permission was obtained to amend the ET1.
  • Acted for the claimant in a constructive dismissal, sex discrimination, harassment and trade union detriment claim.
  • Advised solicitors and drafted a letter before action in a high-value unfair dismissal claim against one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, resulting in a favourable settlement for the claimant.
  • Instructed by the Claimant in a high-value disability, age and race discrimination, whistle-blowing and unfair dismissal claim against an educational establishment. A strike-out application has been resisted, and judgment on preliminary issues (including the Respondent’s late response) is pending.

Public Law

  • Acted for residents seeking judicial [statutory] review of a local authority’s decision to extend a controlled parking zone to their area. Drafted pre-action protocol letter and Grounds for a claimant seeking a statutory review of the CPZ. The claim was transferred to the Planning Court, but was withdrawn, on a dropped hands basis, for want of funding.


Non-Residential Landlord and Tenant

  • Advised a franchisee sub-lessor of a coffee-shop chain located in a shopping and leisure park who had been given notice of termination by his franchisor, after the head landlord complained of insufficient turnover. A detailed analysis of the leases and the figures enabled the franchisee to revert to the landlord with a pragmatic and successful proposal for continuing the relationship, based on evidence that the lease had not been breached as suggested.

Education Law

Instructed by the governors of a SEN School to draft a formal response and a counter-complaint to a statutory letter of complaint from the Secretary of State for Education.

Commercial Law

  • Regularly instructed to draft and advise on contractual and commercial issues, particularly those – contentious or otherwise - related to film and television production.

Professional Misconduct

  • Represented the appropriate authority in a police misconduct matter and obtained the outcome sought (which was summary dismissal).

Transparency in the Court of Protection

Romana successfully handled the leading case Independent News and Media v A [2010] EWCA Civ 343, [2010] 1 WLR 2262 in which the Court of Appeal upheld a landmark decision to allow media access to private court of protection hearings. That application was eventually joined by five other national news organisations, and was the first of several other successful consortium media applications for access to court of protection hearings. She was subsequently invited to contribute to the first edition of The Court of Protection Practitioners’ Handbook, and to speak at seminars on the media and the court of protection, including at the COPPA conference.

Legal Writing / Seminars

Romana has authored several articles on legal matters published in the New Law Journal, The Times law pages, The Independent and the British Review of Journalism. She is a regular contributor to the New Law Journal.

She has presented webinars on recent developments in defamation and privacy on Lexis Nexis, and was invited to address the 2022 White Paper Conference on copyright.


A former television producer who brings a practical and commercial approach to her legal practice, Romana has worked in France, Spain and Italy and is fluent in those languages.

Call: 1997
University of Edinburgh, Master’s Degree in Italian and French Literature.
City University, London: Diploma in Law. Grade: Commendation
Inns of Court School of Law: Bar Vocational Course 1996-7
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1991: Diploma in Spanish. Grade: Distinction
University of East Anglia 2016-7: Master of Arts Degree in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction. Grade: Distinction
Professional memberships:
Media Lawyers’ Association
Employment Law Bar Association
BSB Registration: