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Defamation Trials, Summary Determinations and Assessments: 2011 to 2012

This post is an update to Inforrm’s previous tally of defamation cases, which tracked Defamation Trials, Summary Determinations and Assessments in 2011; 2010 and 2005-2009. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice’s Impact Assessment on the Defamation Bill [PDF] records approximate data for the outcomes of 145 unspecified sample cases 2009-10.

This post records the “final determinations” of libel cases by High Court judges in the legal year: October 2011 – July 2012. We have also collated similar data for October 2010-July 2011 (previous posts categorised by calendar year). This is, however, a partial picture as it does not include settlements, withdrawals or statements in open court; as the Ministry of Justice’s Impact Assessment on the Defamation Bill [PDF] notes, “Data are not collated centrally on the outcomes of defamation claims issued in court. In many cases the costs and damages paid in cases are kept private“.

The table below records substantive defamation hearings before High Court Judges, including trials, “offer of amends assessments”, summary disposals and determinative preliminary issues, of which Inforrm is aware. If there are other cases which we have missed, please contact

Summary: October 2011-July 2012

  • First instance defamation hearings, which resulted in disposal of action: 24 (2010/11: 22)
  • The defendants were successful in 16 of these cases, that is 67 % of cases (2010/11: 13/22 – 59%)
  • Defamation trials: 5 (2010/11: 2 – highlighted in turquoise in table below)
  • Defamation trials involving the mainstream media: 3 (2010/11: 1)
  • Defamation trials with jury: 1 (first in nearly three years) (2010/11: 0)

The “final determinations” by first instance judges were as follows:

The cases for 2010-2011 and 2009 to 2010 can be seen by clicking on the Tabs at the bottom of the table. Please note that the 2009-10 table is not yet fully completed. 

These lists were compiled by Judith Townend, a journalist and researcher based at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London. She is @jtownend on Twitter and blogs at Meeja Law.

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