Northern Ireland: Defamation claims in 2013, numbers stabilise – Olivia O’Kane

21 03 2014

High-Court-BelfastCourt records show that the number of libel cases issued in Northern Ireland in 2013 remains at a similar level to 2011 and 2012.  The total of all claims, in the High Court and the County Court, was 32 in 2012 and 30 in 2013.

Of the total of 64 claims issued in 2012 and 2013, 37 were claims against broadcast or print media defendants. There were 3 trials in 2012 and 2 in 2013. All of them were determined in favour of the plaintiffs.

The aggregate damages awarded in all defamation cases in 2012 was £112.505 – with the largest award being £80,000 in the case of Declan Gormley v Sinn Fein.  In 2013, the aggregate damages awarded were £68,000 (2 judgments and one announced settlement).

This is an updated version of the table from my 2012 post on Northern Ireland defamation cases.

Table 1: High Court Libel Proceedings

 

2008

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Cases Received

55

46

54

31

31

27

Non-Court Disposals

20

196

55

17

6

10

Found for Plaintiff

ND

1

4

ND

3

2

Found for Defendant

1

ND

ND

ND

Damages

ND

£75,000

£57,001

£31,001

£112,505

£68,000

 Table 2: County Court Libel/Slander proceedings

 

2008

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Cases Received 

3

1

1

1

3

Court Disposals 

1

3

1

1

1

Found for Plaintiff 

1

Found for Respondent 

1

2

1

Damages

ND

£1,000

ND

Notes:   

Data for 2013 should be treated as provisional

ND denotes NOT DISCLOSED

A case may not necessarily be dealt with in the same calendar year as it is received.

Olivia O’Kane is specialist media lawyer at Belfast solicitors Carson McDowell


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