George (appellant) v Cannell & anr (respondents)
Tuesday 14 June 2022
This is an appeal by the Claimant against the order made by Saini J dated 11/11/21 entering judgment for the Defendants and ordering C to pay Ds costs of the claim and to pay Ds £100,000 on account of costs within 14 days.
Permission to appeal was granted in relation to the issue of law concerning application and interpretation of section 3 (1) Defamation Act 1952, which sets out the test for establishing malicious falsehood.
The C claimed damages for libel, slander and malicious falsehood in respect of four publications alleged to have been made in or around 21/1/19 by D1 and her company D2 (a recruitment agency).
C is former employee of D2. The subject of the publications is said to be C and allegations concerning her conduct. The publications are said to have contained false and defamatory statements as to breach by C of post-termination contractual restrictions on solicitation of D2s clients and breach of assurances by C to D1 that she would not deal with such clients following her departure from D2.
The judge dismissed the claims. The libel and slander claims for which publication was proven did not succeed solely because they did not satisfy the serious harm requirement under section 1(1) Defamation Act 2013.
The claim in malicious falsehood under section 3(1) Defamation Act 1952 was not made out on the basis that C did not prove, taking into account the facts extraneous to the words complained of which existed at the time of publication, that pecuniary damage was likely to result from publication. The judge did not find that special damage had been caused by the proven publications. But he found that the allegations were false and had been published maliciously.