The decision in Butt v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2619 (QB) clarifies the application of the statutory defence of honest opinion under section 3 of the Defamation Act 2013. In doing so the case also confirms the application of the defence to statements made by Government bodies and the interdependence of the defence upon findings of meaning.
“#MeToo”: Five letters that have been tweeted millions of times in the past month, and demonstrate the enormous power of social media and how it can bring about change for the good. The feeling of solidarity is a cathartic experience for many who have been the victim of sexual abuse, harassment or other forms of coercive behaviour. Beyond this, the reach of the hashtag is already challenging outdated social values and societal norms.
The long-awaited decision in Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd  EWCA Civ 1334 has brought some badly-needed clarity and certainty to the law of libel, and it seems fair to say that reports of the death of the libel writ have been greatly exaggerated. The decision interprets both the meaning of section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013 – “the serious harm” test – and determines the point at which a claim for libel crystallises.
The Ministry of Justice has published annual statistics which further suggest that London’s reputation as the ‘libel capital of the world’ might be undeserved. The 2016 figures show that only 112 claims were issued in the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) in London (all defamation claims must be issued in the High Court; the vast majority of these are issued in the RCJ). This is the lowest number recorded over three decades-worth of record-keeping.
The food blogger, journalist and left-wing political activist Jack Monroe has been awarded £24,000 in damages by the High Court following two tweets sent by the MailOnline (and former Sun)columnist Katie Hopkins in May 2015.
Two Labour MPs, Sir Kevin Barron and John Healey, have each been awarded £40,000 in damages as a result of libelous comments made about them during an interview by a political rival on national television. Liability had already been determined and there was subsequently a hearing to determine quantum.
In Alvaro Sobrinho v Impressa Publishing SA  EWHC 66 (QB) the High Court held that an article written in a Portuguese publication about allegedly illegal activity carried out by a banker did not satisfy the ‘serious harm’ test as set out in section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013. The Court also held that the claim was an abuse of process.
The number of defamation claims that were issued in 2014 have risen by 60% when compared to 2013 figures according to Judicial Statistics published in June by Court Statistics Quarterly: Jan-Mar. This is a surprising trend given the widespread suggestion that the implementation of the Defamation Act 2013 would dissuade a large number of people from issuing libel claims.
On 21 October 2014, the High Court considered a libel claim surrounding a polo pony named Lady Gaga in the case of Louisa Donovan and Katie Gibbons  EWHC 3406 (QB). His Honour Judge Richard Parkes QC was asked to determine the meaning of a caption that accompanied Youtube videos of Lady Gaga bucking.