Northern Ireland: Defamation claims in 2017, a substantial reduction in the number of cases brought – Olivia O’Kane

8 03 2018

I have now obtained the figures concerning the numbers of defamation cases issued in Northern Ireland in 2017.  These figures are based on a search of the Court’s records for the period 1 January to 31 December 2017.

During this period, there were 5 cases issued against broadcast / print media defendants.  In total however, there were 12 libel cases received by the High Court and 8 Libel/Slander cases received by the County Court during the period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017, with 6 court disposals and 6 non-court disposals in the High Court and 2 court disposals and 1 non-court disposal in the County Court during this period.  There were 2 cases in which the judgment was known to be in favour of the defendant during the period.

There were no cases issued against social media organisations and USA entities (Google/Facebook/Automatic Inc) defendants during the period 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017. There were no Libel, privacy, data protection cases issued against USA organisations and social media entities between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017.

The maximum amount of damages awarded by a Jury/Judge along in a Libel/Slander case, for the period was £2,000 awarded in the County Court.

The highest award of libel damages in the last three years was £80,000 – this remains the largest award of recent years.  The most recent judicial libel damages were awarded in Elliott v Flanagan £48,750 after mitigation and Coulter v Sunday Newspapers Limited,£50,000 overturned on appeal.

Table 1: High Court Libel Proceedings

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017P
Cases Received1 54 31 31 27 21 24 42 12
Disposed of at Court 64 17 6 10 7 13 5 6
Found for Plaintiff 4 ND 3 2 1 1 ND ND
Found for Defendant ND ND ND ND 3 ND 2 ND
Damages (£)2 57,001 31,001 112,505 68,000 20,000 ND ND ND

Source: Integrated Court Operations System (ICOS)

 P Data are currently provisional and may be subject to change.

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

2 Relates to the total amount of damages, known to the court, that were awarded.

Table 2: County Court Libel/Slander Proceedings2

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 P
Cases Received1 1 1 1 3 2 4 1 8
Disposed of at Court1 3 1 1 1 3 2 2 2
Found for Plaintiff 1 ND ND 1 1 2 2
Found for Respondent 2 1 ND ND ND ND ND ND
Damages (£)2 1,000 ND ND ND 1,000 1,500 550 3,500

Source: Integrated Court Operations System (ICOS)

Data are currently provisional and may be subject to change.

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

In the County Court there is no distinction between libel and slander cases.

Relates to the total amount of damages, known to the court, that were awarded.

My gratitude to the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service Central Management for their assistance.

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


Actions

Information

One response

12 03 2018
Law and Media Round Up – 12 March 2018 | Inforrm's Blog

[…] On Inforrm, Olivia O’Kane analyses the number of libel cases in 2017. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.




%d bloggers like this: