Huffington Post settles Lachaux libel claim
Recently we reported that the Supreme Court had granted The Independent permission to appeal the decision in the Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd  EWCA Civ 1334. The case concerns the "serious harm" threshold for bringing a defamation claim and is unarguably the most important defamation decision since the inception of the Defamation Act 2013. Much has been said about the law, but behind every landmark case is at least one aggrieved party. Today the second defendant The Huffington Post's publishers Oath (UK) Ltd joined with the Claimant in making a statement in open court accepting that the defamatory allegations it had published were untrue.
The Claimant Bruno Lachaux had sued Oath (or AOL (UK) Ltd as it was then) over a 2014 online article in The Huffington Post which included allegations of domestic abuse. Rather than filing a Defence, AOL - together with The Independent - had sought to persuade the court that the "serious harm" threshold at section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013 was not met and thus that the case should be disposed of at a preliminary hearing. Mr Justice Warby in the High Court disagreed, as did the Court of Appeal (albeit disagreeing in part with Warby J's interpretation of the law).
Unlike The Independent, AOL/Oath did not challenge the Court of Appeal's decision (or, indeed, attempt to defend the claim), instead deciding to throw in the towel and agreeing terms of settlement. This included a apologising publicly to Mr Lachaux in open court, admitting the allegations it had published were untrue and paying substantial damages and costs.
A copy of the Joint Statement in Open Court can be found at 5RB's website here.
It is understood that the Supreme Court will hear the Independent's appeal in November 2018.
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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.