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Chris Cairns awarded £90,000 following first High Court "twibel" trial

Mr Justice Bean handed down judgment today in Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB), finding in favour of the former cricketing all-rounder Chris Cairns.  The Claimant had sued the former Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League Lalit Modi after a 2010 tweet in which Modi had stated Cairns had been involved in match fixing.  The extent of the tweet's publication in the jurisdiction was limited to 65 individuals, but the comment had been repeated on the popular website CricInfo with a further statement from Mr Modi.  CricInfo had reached an settlement with the Claimant in the sum of £7,000.

The eight-day High Court trial concerned one issue; whether Mr Cairns had been involved in any match fixing and thus whether Mr Modi's defence of justification was made out.  In 2010 Mr Modi had made the following comment to the media "...Let him sue us, then we will produce what we have to in court".  Mr Cairns did indeed sue, but unfortunately for Mr Modi Bean J was not persuaded by evidence he put forward in support of his defence of justificaiton.  Finding for the Claimant, Bean J ruled:-

"In my judgment Mr Modi has singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Mr Cairns was involved in match fixing or spot fixing, or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was."

Turning to damages, Bean J remarked:-

"It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is a match fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity. The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences (to take two examples from recent cases). But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman. "

A notable feature of the case was Bean J's decision to increase damages by 20% because of the aggressive and sustained attack on Mr Cairns during the trial in the advancement of the plea of justification.  Bean J noted that the words "liar", "lie" and "lies" had been used some 24 times in the Defendant's closing speech.

Bean J refused the Defendant permission to appeal liability, but granted him permission to appeal quantum.  An interim order for payment of costs in the sum of £400,000 was made and it is understood that in total the case could cost Mr Modi in the region of £1.4M - a reminder why there are so few libel trials.

A full copy of the judgment can be found at the below link:-


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