Libel cases in England and Wales are “better off without juries”, according to Sir Mark Warby, the High Court judge with responsibility for the Media and Communications List of the Queen’s Bench Division. Continue reading
In a judgment handed down on 20 August 2014 in the case Yeo v Times Newspapers ( EWHC 2853 (QB)) Mr Justice Warby decided that the trial of a defamation action brought against the Sunday Times by senior Conservative MP Tim Yeo will take place without a jury. The Judge dismissed an application by the newspaper’s publisher, Times Newspaper Ltd, for a jury trial. He went on to determine the meaning of the words complained of. Continue reading
Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice was, this last week, the venue for an unusual legal event: a High Court libel jury trial. The claim is being brought by comedian Frankie Boyle against MGN Ltd, publishers of the Daily Mirror, in respect of an allegation that he is a racist. MGN is defending the case on the basis that the allegation is true or that it was “honest comment”. Continue reading
In June and July 2012 we published a number of posts as part of an “Inforrm Debate” on the issue as to whether trial by jury should be abolished in libel cases. On 13 July 2012 we published a poll to find out whether our readers favoured the abolition of the statutory right to jury trial contained in clause 11 of the Defamation Bill.
The Government proposes to abolish the right to trial by jury in libel cases. Opponents seek the retention of the right in the established form of a “presumption” in favour of libel trials in jury cases unless the case involves “prolonged examination of documents”. Is it possible to find a middle way? It is important to consider the arguments on both sides to see whether there is any possible common ground. Continue reading
I am a long-term member of the Jury Charge committee of my state bar in the United States, a committee that writes the legal instructions to the jury in civil cases, and was thus very pleased to observe the closing arguments and the Judge’s summing up to the jury in the recent trial of Cooper v Evening Standard and Associated Newspapers, a civil jury trial that arose from a newspaper article that incorrectly reported that Mr. Cooper was a ringleader who organised the Millbank riots in November 2011. Continue reading
The Defamation Bill which is presently before Parliament provides for the abolition of the right to trial by jury in libel cases. Clause 11 of the Bill provides for the removal of the right to jury trial in such cases – a right which has been enshrined in law for nearly 100 years (see our post on the historical background). This clause was approved by the Defamation Bill Committee last week. Continue reading
Immediately following my client Luke Cooper’s win last Friday against the Evening Standard and Daily Mail, their lawyer came over to the claimant’s side of the court and said “I truly do hope that was the last ever jury libel trial“.
It had been hard fought, with both sides content for a jury to decide the case, and the first jury trial in a libel case for three years since Tom Bower defeated Richard Desmond‘s libel claim in 2009. Continue reading
The jury award of £60,000 libel damages to PhD student Luke Cooper was a vindication not only of Luke Cooper’s reputation, it was a vindication of the jury itself and a reminder of what effective justice a jury can deliver. Events in Court 13 last Friday remind us that, when newspapers demonise individuals and refuse to admit they are wrong, there is no more appropriate and telling vindication than the unanimous verdict and award of damages by a jury. Continue reading
The right to trial by jury was a fundamental feature of both criminal and civil procedure under the common law. While the right to trial by jury is seen, by most commentators, as a fundamental right in criminal cases, it has over the last century and a half been gradually eroded in civil cases. Continue reading