Defamation Trials, Summary Determinations and Assessments in 2011

11 01 2012

The state of libel litigation in England and Wales in 2011 can be summarised like this: no jury trials, not much media involvement and similar numbers of cases to 2010.  There were 23 first instance defamation hearings before High Court Judges which resulted in the final disposal of libel actions (in 2010 there were 21).  The defendants were successful in 13 of these cases, that is 57% of the total (in 2010 the defendants were successful in 17 or 81% of cases). 

It should, however, be noted that the 2011 figures are slightly distorted by the 4 cases in which claimants obtained final judgment in claims against Mr Rick Kordowksi, the former owner and operator of the “Solicitors from Hell” website.   Mr Kordowski was also an unsuccessful claimant in one case (Kordowski v Hudson).

The purpose of this post is to record the “final determinations” of libel cases by High Court judges in 2011.  This can only be a partial picture as it does not include settlements or withdrawals.  It does not include statements in open court – there were 15 of these in 2011 (which we will cover in another post).

This post is intended as a follow up to the one we published in March 2010 which set out to provide a list of all the “Defamation Trials, Summary Determinations and Assessments 2005-2009” and our post dealing with trials, determinations and assessments in 2010. Like those posts, this one includes all the substantive defamation hearings before High Court Judges, including trials, “offer of amends assessments”, summary disposals and determinative preliminary issues which we are aware of during this period. We believe that this list is complete but if there are other cases which we have missed then perhaps readers could provide details.

Of the 10 cases in which the claimant succeeded in 2011, there were 4 against Mr Kordowksi, and 3 assessments of damages in the absence of the defendant (Al-Amoudi v Kifle and Cooper v Turrell) or where the defendant was in person (Clynes v O’Connor).  There were only 2 cases in which the claimant succeeded after a full trial (Cambridge v Makin and  Thornton v Telegraph Media Group (No.4)) and one where the claimant succeeded on a preliminary issue (Waterson v Lloyd).

There are two other striking features of the list of “final determinations” for 2011.  First, of the 23 cases, only 3 involved the mainstream UK media.  The media defendants were successful in 2 of these cases (Cook v Telegraph Media and Dell’Olio v Associated Newspapers).  In the third case (Thornton) the media defendant, the Daily Telegraph, was unsuccessful after a full Judge alone trial.

Second, there is the absence of trials.  There were only two full libel trials which resulted in judgments in 2011 – one of which, – Cambridge v Makin – took place in 2010 with judgment being given in January 2011. There were two trials of preliminary issues which resulted in final determinations (Waterson v Lloyd and Cook v Telegraph Media Group).  There was one trial, El-Naschie v Macmillan (heard by Sharp J on various dates between 11 November and 2 December 2011) in which judgment is awaited.  For the second year running there were no libel jury trials at all.  There has now been no libel jury trial for nearly 30 months (the last being Desmond v Bower, which concluded on 22 July 2009).

The “final determinations” by first instance judges were as follows (for the sake of completeness we have also listed defamation appeals which concluded the case)

Date

Case Name

Judgment

Final Win C or D?

20.12.11

Dell’Olio v Associated Newspapers

[2011] EWHC 3472 (QB)

D

16.12.11

Zinda v Ark Academies

[2011] EWHC 3394 (QB)

D (Appeal)

15.12.11

Berezovsky v Terluk

[2011] EWCA Civ 1534 (QB)

C (Appeal)

12.12.11

Cooper v Turrell

[2011] EWHC 3269 (QB)

C

8.12.11

Waterson v Lloyd

[2011] EWHC 3197 (QB)

C

7.12.11

Law Society v Kordowski

[2011] EWHC 3185 (QB)

C

18.11.11

Pena v Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

[2011] EWHC 3027 (QB)

D

31.10.11

Tesla Motors v BBC

[2011] EWHC 2760 (QB)

D

21.10.11

Kordowski v Hudson

[2011] EWHC 2667 (QB)

D

7.10.11

Adelson v Anderson

[2011] EWHC 2497 (QB)

D

26.8.11

Iqbal v Mansoor

[2011] EWHC 2261 (QB)

D

20.7.11

El-Diwany v Hansen

[2011] EWHC 2077 (QB)

D

29.7.11

Al-Amoudi v Kifle

[2011] EWHC 2037

C

28.7.11

Lait v Evening Standard Ltd

[2011] EWCA Civ 859

D (Appeal)

26.7.11

Thornton v Telegraph Media Group (No.4)

[2011] EWHC 1884 (QB)

C

22.7.11

Robins v Kordowski

[2011] EWHC 1912 (QB)

C

16.6.11

Cook v Telegraph Media Group 

[2011] EWHC 1134 (QB)

D

16.5.11

Clynes v O’Connor

[2011] EWHC 1201 (QB)

C

18.4.11

Apsion v Dilnot

[2011] EWHC 869 (QB)

D (Appeal)

1.4.11

White v Southampton University Hospitals Trust

[2011] EWHC 825 (QB

D

1.4.11

Awdry, Bailey & Douglas v Kordowski

[2011] EWHC 785 (QB)

D

25.3.11

Bowker v RPSB

[2011] EWHC 737 (QB)

D

23.2.11

Apsion v Butler

[2011] EWHC 844 (QB)

D

9.2.11

Brady v Norman

[2011] EWCA Civ 107

D (Appeal)

28.1.11

Farrall v Kordowski

 Lloyd-Jones J

C

28.1.11

Wallis v Meredith

[2011] EWHC 75 (QB)

C

20.1.11

Woodbridge v Stapleton

 McKay J

D

12.1.11

Cambridge v Makin

[2011] EWHC 12 (QB)

C


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4 responses

11 01 2012
Andy J

It is interesting that of the cases which received final determinations, only 3 (and only 4 of all cases) involved the UK media. At the Leveson Inquiry much is being made of the high costs of defamation suits, and the need to use arbitration where ever possible. Lord Leveson seems fairly convinced of this.
Perhaps these figures would be more revealing if we had sight of the number of cases that were settled outside the courts because the newspapers were scared off by the costs. Lionel Barber, editor of the FT, certainly indicated this was an issue especially where rich foreign businessmen were concerned, while various witnesses from the Telegraph indicated that they used CFAs as a way to counter the attrition tactics of claimants with ‘deep pockets’.

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