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Defamation proceedings against corporate parent of newspaper publisher are bound to fail

By: Ian Fitzharris BL

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High Court grants defendant's motion to strike out the plaintiff's defamation proceedings claiming damages for defamation, malicious falsehood, breach of privacy, loss of reputation and breach of constitutional rights, on the grounds that: the plaintiff sued the incorrect defendant as the current defendant was not the publisher of the alleged defamatory material and could not be made vicariously liable given its status as a mere corporate parent of the publishing companies in question; and the other pleas made by the plaintiff are not made out, are unknown to law (loss of reputation) and are dependant on the defamation claim not being statute-barred against the correct defendant, which by course of time they have now become.

Defamation - application to strike out proceedings - whether correct defendant sued - motion to add defendants - motion to strike out - amendment to statement of claim - application to strike out proceedings - Order 19, rule 28 RSC - plaintiff's claim to be treated at its high water mark - defendant not publisher and not trading as entities named in title of proceedings - distinction between parent company and publishing company in context of law of defamation - piercing of corporate veil inappropriate in circumstances - director of company not automatically to be identified with company for purpose of law of tort - no basis to suggest defendant knew anything about offending articles of was involved in day-to-day running of subsidiary companies so as to make it liable - whether amendment could save proceedings - Order 15, rule 13 RSC - individual claims in statement of claim - proposed action statute-barred so no purpose would be served by adding new defendants - no averment made that claim in malicious falsehood is a good cause of action - prejudice - jurisdictional argument new defendant may make - no evidence to establish malice averred to - loss of reputation claim unknown to law - constitutional claim dependent on defamation claim not being statute-barred - claim for breach of privacy dependent on defamation claim - addition of new defendants disallowed - inappropriate - action bound to fail - claim struck out - question of costs - general rule that costs follow the event - order 99 rule 9 RSC - adjourned with liberty to re-enter

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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