This week saw the announcement of the retirement of the senior media judge in England and Wales, Mr Justice Tugendhat. He has been a High Court Judge since April 2003 and the Judge in charge of the “Jury List” since 1 October 2010.
On 22 May 2014, it was announced that Mr Justice Tugendhat would retire on 10 June 2014 and would be replaced on the High Court Bench by Mark Warby QC. Mr Justice Tugendhat’s statutory retirement date would have been 21 October 2014, his 70th birthday. No announcement has yet been made as to whether, in the light of the very small number of jury trials, Mr Justice Tugendhat will be replaced as the Judge in Charge of the Jury List.
Meanwhile, the Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty sixth week. The evidence finally concluded at the end of Clive Goodman’s re-examination on Monday 19 May 2014, his ninth day in the witness box (Day 106). The Judge gave updated directions to the jury – which are summarised on Peter Jukes’s Fothom Blog.
On Tuesday 20 May (Day 107) and Wednesday 21 May (Day 108) the jury heard a closing speech from Jonathan Laidlaw QC on behalf of Rebekah Brooks. The Court did not sit on Thursday and Friday. The trial will resume on Tuesday 27 May 2014 with the defence speech from Timothy Langdale QC on behalf of Andy Coulson.
The Press Gazette reports that IMPRESS is to begin recruiting after raising nearly £100,000 in funding,
An amendment to the Deregulation Bill has been tabled to repeal section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996, the provision which permits MPs to waive parliamentary privilege in libel cases. There is a post about the background by on the UK Constitutional Law Blog by Alexander Horne and Oonagh Gay entitled “Ending the Hamilton Affair?”.
The consequences of the Google Spain judgment by the European Court of Justice are still being worked through:
- The Deputy Information Commissioner Dave Smith has a post entitled “Four things we’ve learned from the EU Google judgment“
- The Panopticon Blog has a post by Akhlaq Choudhury, “Google Spain and the CJEU judgment it would probably like to forget“.
There is an interesting piece in the Irish Times by Karlin Lillington entitled “Transatlantic divide on digital policy” considering policy differences between Europe and the US on data protection and net neutrality.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
As the PCC winds down prior to its reconstitution as IPSO, it has published only one “resolved complaint” this week: Julie Doubleday v Metro. It appears that the membership of the board of IPSO may be announced this week.
In the Courts
On 19 May 2014, Tugendhat J heard a third party disclosure applications in the linked “plebgate” cases of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers and Rowland v Mitchell. Judgment was reserved.
On 20 May 2014, Tugendhat J gave a judgment concerning costs in the case of AVB v TDD ( EWHC 1663 (QB)).
On the same date Tugendhat J gave judgment in the case of GG v YY  EWHC 1627 (QB)
24 and 25 May 2014 “Understanding Transition, Austerity, Communication and the Media“, University of Bucharest.
19 June 2014, “Press Gazette, Defamation 2014″, Leicester Square, London
Know of any media law events happening later this summer or in the autumn? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that ABC has challenged conservative commentator Chris Kenny to withdraw his defamation case following and apology by the ABC managing director.
Nick Di Girolamo, the former chief executive of Australian Water Holdings (AWH) and a Liberal party fundraiser at the centre of a recent New South Wales corruption inquiry has launched a Aus$12.5 million defamation claim against Fairfax Media over stories published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the case of Chen v Evans  VSC 230 Victorian Supreme Court extended the limitation period so plaintiff could sue Google for defamation.
Finally, we note an article by Richard Ackland the Sydney Morning Herald arguing that “Defamation should be law reform focus, not racial discrimination”
In the case of Tandem Skydive (Fiji) Ltd v Tupek  FJHC 344 the Judge awarded damages for defamation in the sum $85,000 for three plaintiffs in an action based a letter containing allegations of criminal conduct.
On 21 May 2014, the court extended an injunction in the case of O’Mahony v Sharkey, ordering the defendand to take down a defamatory tweet. There is a report in the Irish Independent.
In the case of Mitchell Vazquez v Teri Buhl [pdf] the Connecticut Court of Appeal rules that a website is not liable for linking to defamatory statements, even where endorsed them. There is a report about the case on the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press website.
It is reported that the South Dakota Supreme Court has refused to entertain an appeal by ABC News in the so-called “pink slime” libel case and the case will now proceed to trial. A copy of the Order can be found here [pdf].
On 21 May 2014, the President of Zambia, Michael Sata, appeared as a witness in the High Court in his claim over an article in the Daily Nation making an allegation of corruption.
Research and Resources
- Sexting and Freedom of Expression: A Comparative Approach JoAnne Sweeny University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Kentucky Law Journal, Vol. 102, No. 1, 2013-2014; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2014-09 SSRN
- Irreconcilable Differences? Interlocutory Injunctions for Defamation and Privacy, David Rolph, University of Sydney – Faculty of Law 2012, Media and Arts Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 170-200, 2012 Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/51 SSRN .
- “The Common Law and the Spirit of Kennedy“, Christopher Knight, Panopticon Blog.
Next week in the courts
The Easter Legal Term ended on 23 May 2014 and Trinity Term does not beging until 3 June 2014. As a result, there are no hearings in media law cases this next week.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
O’Neill v Catalyst Housing Ltd heard, 9 April 2014 (Dingemans J)
Cartus Corporation v Siddell, heard 8 May 2014 (Sir David Eady)
Mitchell v News Group Newspapers, heard 19 May 2014 (Tugendhat J)