Defamation actions – how are they disposed of? [updated]

12 01 2011

In previous posts we have considered the final hearings in defamation claims in 2010 – and the decline in the number of trials.  But only a small proportion of defamation cases are actually dealt with at hearings or trials.  There are between 200 and 300 defamation claims commenced each year – 259 in 2008 and 298 in 2009 (see RPC’s analysis and our post commenting on it) – but only 21 were disposed of at hearings.  The question arises as to what happened to the other 200 odd claims which, it seems likely, would have been disposed of in 2010?

A substantial number were settled by the defendant agreeing to pay damages and costs and making a statement in open court.  We counted 43 such statements in 2010 – but we may well have missed some.  There is a list at the bottom of this post. [Update] Mr Benjamin Pell has drawn our attention to a number of omissions from the list – and two privacy statements included in error.  The updated list of 46 statements is set out below.

There have been a number of settlements of libel actions which have resulted in apologies but no statement in open court – for example, Ed Buxton v News Group (the “Sun”) and NOW Magazine Eason v Kordowski (Solicitors from Hell), Sawalha v Phillips (libel on Spectator blog), Laker v News Group (body scanner libel), Islam Expo v Spectator, Forzini v Times Newspapers, Gordon Taylor v Associated Newspapers

There have also been a number of high profile cases in which libel claims have been “discontinued” – we are thinking for example of, GE Healthcare v Thomsen, Fiddes v Channel Four, BCA v Singh, North London Mosque v Policy Exchange.

However, the total of all the cases we have mentioned so far – hearings, statements, apologies and withdrawals – is only 79, or just over a third of the annual figure for libel claims which are commenced.    Even assuming that we have missed a number of settlements and apologies, it appears that there a very substantial proportion of issued claims – perhaps around half – which have not been accounted for.

Of course, it is possible that each year a number of claims are simply “left on the court file” with neither party taking action to progress the case – although it can be assumed that if a claimant does nothing for a period of years then a defendant will, eventually, take steps to have the case struck out.

It seems likely that the “unaccounted for” fall into one of three categories

  • withdrawn or discontinued without publicity;
  • settled without publicity;
  • struck out for want of prosecution.

There is at present, no information available as to what percentage of the remaining cases fall into each of these categories.  It might be assumed that, in general, successful libel claimants would wish to have their settlements publicised and successful defendants would wish the public to know if a claim was abandoned or struck out.

STATEMENTS IN OPEN COURT IN LIBEL CASES IN 2010

1.          GASCOIGNE v MGN LIMITED, 17/12/2010

2.         LORD TRIESMAN V UTV MEDIA,   9/12/2010

3.         (1) NELSON ANGELO PIQUET (2) NELSON PIQUET SOUTO MAIOR V RENAULT F1 TEAM LTD,  QBD   7/12/2010

4.         MARK LEWIS v (1) COMMISSIONER OF POLICE OF THE METROPOLIS (2) BARONESS BUSCOMBE (3) PRESS COMPLAINTS COMMISSION 26/11/2010

5.          LAVASA CORPORATION v TIMES NEWSPAPERS,  17/11/2010

6.         LOUIS M BACON v ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD  16/11/2010

7.         MARIA JAYNE WYATT v GORDON A CARTWRIGHT  10/11/2010

8.         CRISTIANO RONALDO V TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP LTD , 8/11/2010

9.          HESFORD v EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS, 4/11/2010

10.        SYLVIA HENRY v INDEPENDENT NEWS & MEDIA LTD 26/10/2010

11.         SYLVIA HENRY v MGN LTD  26/10/2010

12.        SYLVIA HENRY v ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS 26/10/2010

13.       (1) PETER KENYON (2) CHELSEA FC PLC v ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD  21/10/2010

14.       PATRICK JOSEPH HILL v (1) HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS (2) WES DAVIS 12/10/2010

15.       LILY ALLEN v (1) NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD (2) SO PRESS SARL  7/10/2010

16.       TAKE 2 INC v EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS LIMITED, 4/10/2010

17.      HOLMAN v SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL, 15/9/2010

18.      STEPHEN UNDERHILL v TIMOTHY WATSON  29/7/2010

19.       PARAMESWARAN SUBRAMANYAM V NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD 29/7/10

20.       (1) IAIN STAMP (2) UK INNOVATIVE FINANCIAL DESIGNS LTD v DAVID COTTRELL  29/7/2010

21.       REZA PANKHURST V EVENING STANDARD LTD 28/7/2010

22.       REZA PANKHURST V ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD 28/7/2010

23.       IBRAHIM HEWITT & ORS V EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS LIMITED 22/7/2010

24.       MOHAMMED MICHAEL GEORGE V EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS  19/7/2010

25.       SHERYL GASCOIGNE v MGN LTD 16/7/2010

26.       STELIOS HAJI-IOANNOU v (1) MICHAEL O’LEARY (2) RYANAIR LTD 15/7/2010

27.       PRINCE RADU OF HOHENZOLLERN V (1) MARCO HOUSTON (2) SENA-JULIA PUBLICATUS LTD 15/7/2010

28.       SYLVIA HENRY v HARINGEY LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL 1/7/2010

29.       ZOE MARGOLIS v INDEPENDENT NEWS & MEDIA LTD 21/5/2010

30.       BARRY GEORGE v (1) MGN LTD (2) TINA WEAVER (3) DAVID JEFFS 14/5/2010

31.       SHERYL GASCOIGNE v NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD 7/5/2010

32.       MOHAMMED JAMIL ABDELQADER ASHA v NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD  27/4/2010

33.       (1) JOYCE PINFIELD (2) DAVID VALENTINE v TAKE A BREAK MAGAZINE  21/4/2010

34.       IDRIS ATCHA AND OTHERS V EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS LIMITED 15/4/2010

35.       (1) MCLAUGHLIN (2) MARTIN (3) DAVIES v NEWALL 15/4/2010

36.       TOM WATSON V NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD 12/4/2010

37.       CLAIRE POWELL v KATIE PRICE  19/3/2010

38.       ROMAN ABRAMOVICH v GRUPPO EDITORIALE L’ESPRESSO SPA 18/3/2010

39.       JULIA SVETLICHNAJA v OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 15/3/2010

40.       SIR MICHAEL PARKINSON v ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD 3/3/2010

41.       GARETH LEVINGTON v (1) MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE LTD (2) MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE INC (3) MOODY’S CORPORATION (4) MIS QUALITY MANAGEMENT CORPORATION  25/2/2010

42.       ABDUL MUNEEM PATEL v (1) JR BOOKS (2) JEREMY ROBSON (3) GORDON THOMAS (4) ROB KIRKPATRICK  17/2/2010

43.       ABDUL MUNEEM PATEL v NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD 17/2/2010

44.       MARTYN SMITH v PRESS ASSOCIATION LTD  4/2/2010

45.       INAYAT BUNGLAWALA v ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD  29/1/2010

46.       PEACHES GELDOF v EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS  12/1/2010


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5 responses

12 01 2011
Tweets that mention Defamation actions – how are they disposed of? « Inforrm's Blog -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by UK Human Rights Blog and Media Law UK. Media Law UK said: Inforrm>>Defamation actions – how are they disposed of?: In previous posts we have considered the fina… http://bit.ly/gR1N2B #medialaw […]

14 01 2011
Judith Townend

Thanks for the informative post. Which year does ‘only 21 were disposed of at hearings’ refer to? 2010?

14 01 2011
INFORRM

There were 21 hearings at which libel actions were disposed of in 2010 – see our post on Defamation Trials, Summary Determinations and Assessments, 2010

Inforrm Editorial

14 01 2011
What happens to the hundreds of defamation claims each year? | media law & ethics

[…] Inforrm blog has an excellent piece on what happens to defamation actions in England & Wales. It reports that while there are between 200 and 300 defamation claims each year, very few are […]

17 01 2011
Tracing “unaccounted for” defamation actions « Law, Justice and Journalism

[…] Inforrm blog has an excellent piece on what happens to defamation actions in England & Wales. It reports that while there are between 200 and 300 defamation claims each year, very few are […]

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