At a High Court hearing today Mr Justice Warby has ruled that the trial of the claim by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, against Associated Newspapers should be adjourned from January 2021 until Autumn 2021. The primary basis for the adjournment was a “confidential ground”.
The application to adjourn was not opposed by the Daily Mail. The trial had been listed to begin on 11 January 2021 and will now be refixed for Autumn 2021.
At the same hearing, Mr Justice Warby refused the Duchess of Sussex’s application for permission to appeal against the recent decision by Master Kaye which allowed the Mail on Sunday permission to amend its Defence to rely on material from the recent book about the Sussexes, “Finding Freedom“.
It has also been reported that the Duchess of Sussex has applied for summary judgment. This application has only recently been issued and was not before the Court today. It will still proceed but will be heard at a later date. Although the Times reported this as an attempt to “dodge the witness box” it is, in fact, the proceed that was successfully used by Prince Charles in his successful 2006 claim against the same newspaper ( HRH the Prince of Wales v Associated Newspapers Ltd  Ch 57.
Summary judgment can be granted under CPR Part 24 if the defence has no real prospect of succeeding and there is no other compelling reason for a trial. In January 2020 Inforrm posted a detailed two-part analysis of the Mail On Sunday’s Defence in the claim by Paul Wragg:
- Mail on Sunday’s Meghan Markle Defence: A Study in Poverty, Part 1 – Paul Wragg
- Mail on Sunday’s Meghan Markle Defence: A Study in Poverty, Part 2 – Paul Wragg
Professor Wragg concluded that the Defence contained “little of substance”. If he is correct then it might be thought that the summary judgment application has good prospects of success.
A costs and case management hearing in the case will take place at 2.30 today before Master Kaye.