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Haviland v Lownie: Libel claim against publisher dismissed

The High Court has today dismissed a libel claim brought against publisher Andrew Lownie and his literary agency by former associate David Havilland.  Mr Haviland alleged that Mr Lownie had libelled him in seven emails sent to the writers’ website

In an earlier decision (Haviland v The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd & Anor [2021] EWHC 143 (QB)), Mr Justice Nicklin found that two of the emails were not defamatory at common law.

Following an application by Mr Lownie, Mr Justice Murray granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that there was no real prospect of the claimant establishing that the remaining five emails had caused (or were likely to cause) serious harm to his reputation - a requisite element of any libel claim under section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013.  Murray J also found that the claim was an abuse of the Court’s process pursuant to the Jameel jurisdiction, as no substantial tort had been committed.

Commenting on the judgment Mr Lownie said:-

‘It is a great relief, after four years of litigation, that the claims brought against me by my former fiction agent David Haviland, both for defamation and at an employment tribunal, have been so comprehensively dismissed.  It has been financially crippling to defend the claims, one of which was brought on a no-win, no-fee basis.  It is unlikely that all my costs will be recovered, but I felt it important to stand up against the claims made.’

A copy of the judgment (Haviland v The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd & Anor [2022] EWHC 1688 (QB)) can be found here.

Mr Haviland has been ordered to pay Mr Lownie's costs of the application and the claim.


The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency and Andrew Lownie were represented by Iain Wilson and Elisabeth Mason and John Stables of 5RB.


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