Law and Media, Summary Summer Round Up – 17 September 2018

17 09 2018

The legal term ended on 31 July 2018 and over our summer break we have not published any “Law and Media Round Ups”.  Regular round ups will not begin until October but this “Summer Round Up” draws attention to developments over the past 7 weeks and some forthcoming cases.

The most high profile domestic media law news of the summer was the BBC’s announcement that it was not seeking permission to appeal against the judgment of Mann J awarding Sir Cliff Richard privacy damages of £210,000 ([2018] EWHC 1837 (Ch)).  We had a post on this decision.  The BBC curiously announced that it was writing to the Attorney-General asking the Government to consider a review of the law.

On 31 July 2018 Nicklin J handed down judgment in Bokova v Associated Newspapers [2018] EWHC 2032 (QB) dimissing most of the claimant’s attempt to strike out a defence of truth. He did, however, strike out the defendant’s Lucas-Box meanings on the ground that “advancing Lucas-Box meanings that are at variance with the actual meaning found by the Court is wrong in principle”.

On 15 August 2015 HHJ Parkes QC handed down judgment in the curious libel and misrepresentation case of Burki v Seventy Thirty Ltd [2018] EWHC 2151 (QB). The judge gave judgment for the claimant on her misrepresentation claim of £13,100 and judgment of the defendant on its libel counterclaim of £5,000.  We had a post about the judgment and there was a report in the Guardian. The Judge will hand down judgment on costs on 17 September 2018.

The Press Gazette reported that the Times and the Express titles had settled libel claims after wrongly suggesting that a married couple ran an Islamist “Trojan Horse” plot at a primary school.

A public summary of the judgment [pdf] in the “Muslim Fostering” case was published in early September 2018.  This demonstrated that the high profile reporting of the case in the Times was seriously and materially inaccurate.  We had a post by Brian Cathcart “’Muslim fostering’: Times journalism utterly discredited”.  The national press have entirely ignored the judgment.

The Law Society Gazette reported on a curious case in which a litigant in person, trying to sue Google, has successfully concealed his identify from the Court and the defendant for more than 9 months. The litigant known as ABC had not complied with a court order to supply his name.  Nicklin J ordered the case to be struck out unless ABC identified himself.

The listing of the Supreme Court appeal in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print has been published [pdf].  The case will be heard on 13 and 14 November 2018 by Lords Kerr, Wilson, Sumption, Hodge and Briggs.

MEPs have voted in favour of amendments to copyright reform which could shake up the way news content is used online.  These amendments are controversial as they could force Google and Facebook to block copyrighted content.

Next Week in the Courts

On Monday 17 September 2018 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of Ashraf v Dunya News Ltd.

On the same day HHJ Parkes QC will hand down judgments in the cases of Burki v Seven Thirty Ltd and Otuo v Watch Tower and Bible and Tract Society (heard 7 and 15 June 2018)

IPSO

The Press Gazette reports that the Sun’s Jeremy Corbyn “Blood on his Hands” splash and the Daily Mail’s “Legs-it” front page  were among the most complained of stories in 2017.

There have been a number of IPSO rulings over the summer.  The most controversial was that concerning the Daily Telegraph’s Sam Allardyce sting (Allardyce, Moloney, Curtis v Daily Telegraph).  We had a post about this by Brian Cathcart.  There was also a report in the Press Gazette.

Other rulings included:

The Press Gazette has a piece by IPSO chief executive Matt Tee about the “compulsory arbitration scheme” – which at present has had no takers.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

There have been a number of substantial libel damages awards in the Australian courts.

In the case of Moroney v Zegers [2018] VSC 446  the Supreme Court of Victoria awarded damages and interest in the total sum of $887,000 dollars.  We had a post about the case.

This awarded was topped  by the Supreme Court of Queensland which, in the case of Wagner v Harbour Radio ([2018] QSC 201) awarded a record total of $3.7 million to four brothers over defamatory radio broadcasts.  We had a post about this case.

Canada

The Times Colonist reports that the Supreme Court of Canada has refused permission to appeal in the case of Nazerali v Mitchell in which the judge had awarded damages of $1,2 million (2016 BCSC 810) thus bringing to an end a 7 year legal battle.

Ireland

The Law Reform Commission has published an « issues paper » [pdf] on privilege for reports of court proceedings

Kenya

Two appeal judges are suing the Nation Media Group for defamation over articles alleging that they had improperly reversed High Court rulings on election issues.

United States

The BBC reports that a judge in Washington DC has dismissed a libel claim against Christopher Steel, the former British intelligence agent who compiled the dossier alleging links between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.  A copy of the judgment can be found here [pdf]

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:

Economou v Freitas, heard 17 and 18 April 2018 (Lewison, Ryder and Sharp LJJ)

Lloyd v Google LLC, heard 21 to 23 May 2018 (Warby J)

Monir v Wood, heard 16 to 19 April and 3 to 5 July 2018 (Nicklin J)

Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland, heard 25 and 26 July 2018 (Sharp, Asplin LJJ and Sir Rupert Jackson).

Piepenbrock v London School of Economics, heard 16, 17, 20 23, 24 and 27 July 2018 (Nicola Davies J).


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