The most recent annual Judicial Statistics – those for 2014 – show a substantial increase in the number of issued defamation claims, up by 60% on 2013. In 2014 there were 227 issued defamation claims in London (where the large majority of claims are made) – as opposed to 142 in 2013. This is the highest annual figure since 2009.
The reason for this large increase in the number of claims is unclear and contradicts the views of many commentators that the Defamation Act 2013 (which came into force on 1 January 2014) would lead to a further decline in the number of defamation claims. It remains to be seen whether the 2014 figures are a “blip” in an otherwise continuing downward trend or is the beginning of a revival in libel litigation.
The Ministry of Justice no longer publishes a separate annual “Judicial Statistics” bulletin but the figures can be found in the Court Statistics Quarterly: Jan-Mar – published each year in June. The detailed breakdown which shows the number of defamation claims appears in what are now (curiously) described as the “Appellate Courts Tables” – the 2014 tables are here [xls]
There is no separate record of the number of privacy and other claims against the media – they are, presumably included in the 754 “miscellaneous” claims issued. The Ministry of Justice does now publish statistics on privacy injunctions which now form part of the Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly and are published every 6 months. The most recent, October-December 2014 edition says that during 2014 there was one application for a new interim privacy injunctions. As the 5RB website pointed out at the time this seems to be an underestimate as there were a number of cases in 2014 in which injunctions were granted to prevent publication of information.
More details of libel claims can be found in this table of defamation (and other) claims since 1992 – adapted from a table which was originally provided to us by media solicitors RPC.
|Year||Claims issued in London (QB)||Defamation Claims Issued in London||% of all London (QB) Claims issued||£15-50k||£>50k||No value stated|