Monthly Archives: December 2014

Times Newspapers Ltd apologise to solicitors for false and damaging article

In a statement in open court, Times Newspapers Limited has apologised to the law firm Hodge Jones & Allen LLP for ‘false and damaging statements’ published in The Times newspaper.   The Claimant, a well-known London firm, had been the subject of a front page article published on 26 June 2014 by the Defendant.

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£443,000 awarded in libel special damages claim

In ReachLocal UK Ltd and another v Jamie Bennett and others [2014] EWHC 3405 (QB), the Claimants (both subsidiaries of an international online marketing group) sued for defamation following a campaign to discredit them by a former affiliate company and individuals connected to it.  Emails were sent to customers of the Claimants suggesting that the Claimants were scamming or deceiving them and profiting from this deception.  These were followed up by blog posts and telephone calls which made similar allegations.  The Claimants, who obtained default judgment against four defendants, produced before the Court a spreadsheet showing profits lost where customers had cancelled advertising campaigns as a result of the libel, and future profits lost, where those same customers had previously committed to future campaigns for which they would now no longer subscribe.  Discounting the total figure given by some 20% to account for those customers for whom other factors may have played a part, His Honour Judge Parkes QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) awarded £241,945.42.  The Judge also allowed further damages of £60,278, in respect of sums paid to customers by the Claimants to convince them to remain, and £66,600, in respect of the costs incurred employing a public relations consultant to repair the reputational damage.  Although both Claimants were bodies corporate and therefore unable to suffer the distress and embarrassment that afflicts individuals, and notwithstanding the size of the special damages award, the Judge recognised that substantial general damages were still required by way of vindication, in order to rebut the allegations made against them.  Sums of £75,000 and £100 were awarded (the second Claimant, although the immediate parent of the first, did not trade in the jurisdiction and was therefore awarded only a nominal sum).  Thus, a total damages figure of £443,923.42 was awarded.

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