In this  regular feature we draw attention to the last week’s law and media news and next week’s upcoming events. If readers have any news or events which they would like to draw attention to please add them by way of comments on this post.  We are particularly interested in forthcoming events which readers might like to attend.


On 7 March 2010 Max Clifford’s claim in relation to phone hacking by the News of the World settled for a reported sum of over £1 million (see our post here).  It appears that there may be other claims in the pipeline.  The Press Gazette tells us that Max Clifford thrashed out the deal with Rebecca Brooks.

On 10 March 2010 Mr Justice Eady delivered the inaugural lecture for the new City University Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism under the title “Protecting Free Speech in the Context of the European Convention on Human Rights”, see our post on the lecture here.  The You Tube footage of part of the question and answer session is here.  A copy of the speech is now available here on the “Judiciary” website.  There is an interesting post about this lecture on “Two Cultures” blog under the headline “Excellent Speech by Eady J”.

Afua Hirsch reported the lecture here, taking up some of the points made in a blogpost on the Guardian’s interesting “Liberty Central Blog” entitled “The Tories’ cheap shot on privacy”

Mr Justice Eady gave two judgments this week (mentioned below).  He also heard the case of Lait v Evening Standard which he indicated was the first case where the issue of “costs budgeting” had arisen so that he would preside over a costs budgeting hearing with the assistance of a costs judge.  He indicated that, as a far as he was aware, no Master had yet undertaken such an exercise.

On 10 March 2010, the High Court of Australia heard a defamation case arising out of the dishonour of a cheque by a bank, Aktas v Westpac Banking Corporation – an appeal from a decison of the Court of Appeal in New South Wales ([2009] NSWCA 9).  A transcript of the appeal hearing can be found here. The High Court of Australia judgment was reserved.

The Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform announced on 10 March 2010 that he is asking the Dáil and Séanad to approve an Order by him declaring the formal recognition of the Press Council of Ireland as the “Press Council” under section 44 of the Defamation Act 2009.  There is a post about this on the blog.  We have previously blogged about the reform of Irish defamation law.

On 11 March 2010 the Media Society and Stephenson Harwood hosted a debate under the title “Lawyers and Journalists – Natural Bedfellows or enemies”.  From the reports which we have heard that it was an entertaining evening with robust views being exchanged – we hope that there will be a transcript, or perhaps a podcast!

On 11 March 2010, it was reported in the Press Gazette and the Guardian. that Kate Middleton had settled proceedings against “Rex Features” in respect for the syndication of paparazzi photographs taken on Christmas Day 2009.

A Swedish professor phonetics told the Times that “Libel laws silenced” me – this arises out of an article which he wrote entitled ““Charlatanry in Forensic Speech Science”.  His remarks are also noted in the Press Gazette. We know nothing about this case but we can’t help but think that academics who wish to criticise the work of others should take care when using words like “charlatan” which are liable to be interpreted as making serious defamatory accusations.

It has been announced that “Lawyers Media Standards” have sent a judicial review pre-action protocol letter to the the Lord Chancellor arising out of his decision to reduce the maximum success fee in defamation claims to 10% (see last week’s “News and Events” post).

In relation to legal actions, we note Chelsea and England player Frank Lampard has sued The Sun over a story which alleged he “sabotaged” a cookery TV show.  It is also reported that Facebook is threatening to sue the Daily Mail after the paper reportedly wrongly claimed in a piece published on Wednesday that 14-year-old girls who create a profile on the social networking site could be approached “within seconds” by older men who “wanted to perform a sex act” in front of them.

We draw attention today’s “World Day against Cyber Censorship” – mentioned on the blog.

Finally, the media and entertainment barristers at 5RB re-launched its website this week – in fashionable monochrome.  We have resisted all comments along the lines of 5RB seeing the world in black and white.

Last week’s judgments

Berezovsky v Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting [2010] EWHC 476 (QB).  The claimant was successful in his libel action and was awarded damages of £150,000.  Our post on the decision is here.  There is an application for permission to appeal and stay of costs, see the Court of Appeal Listing Calendar, here.

Hughes v Risbridger [2010] EWHC 491 (QB), Eady J – the defendant successfully relied on the defence of qualified privilege with the result that the claimant’s libel claim was dismissed.

Next Week’s Events

A quiet week for media lawyer after the excitement of last week’s lecture by Mr Justice Eady and the Media Society debate.

18 March, Frontline Club “Insight with John Simpson: a free and independent press”

In the Courts

It is also quiet week in the English law courts in media cases.  On 18 March 2010, there is a meaning/strike out application in the libel case of  Miller v Associated Newspapers.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear argument in the case of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v A-G of Quebec (see the Court’s case summary here).  The case concerns the validity of rules adopted by the Superior Court and the Ministry of Justice to circumscribe journalists activities in courtrooms and to prohibit the media from broadcasting official recordings of trials.

We mention the following reserved High Court judgments in media cases:

Buturina v Times Newspapers Ltd, heard 4-5 February 2010
Budu v British Broadcasting Corporation, heard 9-10 February 2010
Dee v Telegraph Media Group Ltd, heard 24-25 February 2010
Lait v Evening Standard, heard 10 March 2010

The following Court of Appeal judgments are awaited:

British Chiropractic Association -v- Singh, heard 23 February 2010 (Judge LCJ, Neuberger MR, Sedley LJ)
Independent News and Media Limited v. DP (By his Litigation Friend The Official Solicitor), heard on 24 February 2010 (Judge LCJ, Neuberger MR and Potter P).