Judicial Statistics: 2013 Defamation claims down 24%, no privacy injunctions Jan-June 2014

24 10 2014

ministry-of-justiceWe have, once again belatedly, caught up with the most recent annual Judicial Statistics – those for 2013.  These show a substantial decrease in the number of issued defamation claims, down 24% from 2012.  In 2013 there were 142 issued defamation claims in London (where the large majority of claims are made) – as opposed to 186 in 2012.  This is the lowest annual figure since 2002 and appears to be the second lowest of all time. Read the rest of this entry »





Northern Ireland: Defamation claims in 2013, numbers stabilise – Olivia O’Kane

21 03 2014

High-Court-BelfastCourt records show that the number of libel cases issued in Northern Ireland in 2013 remains at a similar level to 2011 and 2012.  The total of all claims, in the High Court and the County Court, was 32 in 2012 and 30 in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »





News: Privacy, no new injunctions granted in last 6 months of 2013

19 03 2014

ministry-of-justiceThe Ministry of Justice has produced its statistical bulletin [pdf] for privacy injunctions, July to December 2013.  This shows that there was one application for new privacy injunction in this period – which was refused. This is the lowest figure since the statistics were first published for the period August to December 2011.  Read the rest of this entry »





The Statistics the Press Complaints Commission Would Rather You Didn’t See – Brian Cathcart

4 02 2014

pccYou might think that any institution dedicated to upholding an industry’s code of practice would want to be clear how many times that code was broken and which companies were the most frequent offenders. Not the Press Complaints Commission (“PCC”). Read the rest of this entry »





Defamation Act 2013: Monitoring the effect of the changes – Judith Townend

8 01 2014

StatisticsThe Defamation Act 2013 is now in force. In a press release the government claims it “reverses the chilling effect on freedom of expression current libel law has allowed, and the prevention of legitimate debate we have seen in the past”. Read the rest of this entry »





Social Media: more twitter usage statistics

19 11 2013

Twitter figuresThere are many figures bandied around for the levels of Twitter usage. Reliable statistics are often hard to come by.  However, Twittter has, for the purposes of its recent IPO, provided a number of figures in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Twitter’s own analysis is that it has 232 million monthly active users and that that there are, on average, 500 million tweets per day in the world. Read the rest of this entry »





Northern Ireland Defamation Cases, numbers decline – Olivia O’Kane

17 12 2012

High Court BelfastThe recent changes in the media landscape have no doubt had an impact for libel lawyers in Northern Ireland.  As advertising cuts continue to be made and the Leveson culture has exerted pressure on journalistic practice, the media are no doubt trying to resolve disputes in advance of legal proceedings being issued.  Legal Aid is not available to libel claimants and conditional fee agreements and after the event insurance is not available in Northern Ireland, which also has an effect on the volume of this type of legal work.

I have now obtained the figures concerning the number of libel actions received in the High Court and County Courts of Northern Ireland for each of the last five years, the number of court disposals and details of the outcome where that was disclosed to, or ordered by, the court.

The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals office advised that the majority of actions for libel were settled between the parties either before they came to court or before the start of trial.  In those circumstances the terms of settlement, including any agreed damages, remain undisclosed.

County Court defamation cases were always rare, because of the low monetary jurisdiction of £3,000 and any sum claimed above this would have to be progressed through the High Court.  In 2009 the County Court issued 3 libel cases and only 1 was issued in 2012. The decline in defamation litigation is most evident in the High Court.  In 2005 it issued 55 libel cases but in the year 2012 less than half this number were issued, 26.

Between the 1 January 2011 and 31 October 2012 there were 45 libel cases received were the respondent was a broadcast or print media company.  There were 30 libel cases recorded by 30 April 2012 and 45 by 31 October 2012.

Between 23 December 2010 and 31 October 2012 there were 58 cases received and 7 court disposals and 31 non court disposals.  For the same period of the 58 cases received there was only 1 case were Judgment was in favour of the Defendant.

The largest amount of damages awarded by a Jury since 2005 in a libel case in Northern Ireland was £44,000 plus legal costs in the case of O’Rawe v William Trimble Ltd [2010] NIQB 124 (interim application) and [2010] NIQB 135 (final judgment).

 Table 1: High Court Libel Proceedings

 

 

2008

 

2009

2010

2011

01/01/12 – 30/04/12

01/01/12 – 31/10/12

Cases Received

55

46

54

31

17

26

Court Disposals 

11

22

64

17

1

5

Non-Court Disposals 

20

196

55

17

7

14

Found for Plaintiff  

ND

1

4

ND

ND

ND

Found for Respondent

1

ND

ND

ND

ND

ND

Damages

ND

£75,000

£57,001

£31,001

-

ND

Notes:    Data for 2011 & 2012 should be treated as provisional.

ND denotes NOT DISCLOSED

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

Table 2: County Court Libel/Slander proceedings

 

 

2008

 

2009

2010

2011

01/01/12 – 30/04/12

01/01/12 – 31/10/12

Cases Received 

-

3

1

1

-

1

Court Disposals 

1

-

3

1

-

1

Non-Court Disposals 

-

-

-

-

-

-

Found for Plaintiff 

-

-

1

-

-

ND

Found for Respondent 

1

-

2

1

-

ND

Damages

ND

-

£1,000

ND

-

ND

Notes:    Data for 2012 should be treated as provisional

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

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

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








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