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.
In Singh v Weayou  EWHC 2102 (QB), the Claimant Keith Singh, a Night Services Coordinator at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, sued the Defendant Joseph Weayou, a Health Care Assistant at the same hospital, for libel and malicious falsehood in respect of an email Mr Weayou had sent on 24 August 2015 to the HR Manager and a senior manager at the hospital. In the email, Mr Weayou made a number of allegations, including, most seriously, that Mr Singh had sexually assaulted him.
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.
Following a high-profile, televised police raid on his Berkshire home in 2014, Sir Cliff Richard issued claims against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police for the misuse of his private information, infringement of his Article 8 ECHR right to a private life, and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. In a recent hearing before Mr Justice Mann, Sir Cliff’s legal team stated that they had reached a settlement agreement with South Yorkshire Police and had agreed to stay proceedings against the BBC for one month in an attempt to reach a settlement.
Defamation proceedings have been issued in the High Court against former UKIP leader Nigel Farage after he accused the charity Hope not Hate of being ‘violent and undemocratic’. The allegation was made on 20 December 2016 on LBC radio’s breakfast show.
Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah Al Alouai of Morocco (‘the Prince’) has won an appeal against Elaph Publishing Limited (‘Elaph’) that now allows him to advance a claim under the Data Protection Act 1998 (‘DPA’) and also overturned a previous ruling that the words published were not capable of being defamatory.