Full case report

Adelson v Associated Newspapers Ltd (CA)

Reference [2007] EWCA Civ 701; [2008] 1 WLR 585; [2007] 4 All ER 330; [2008] EMLR 324; The Times, 18 July 2007
Court Court of Appeal

Judge Lord Phillips CJ, Jacob LJ, Moses LJ

Date of Judgment 9 Jul 2007


Summary

Defamation – Limitation – Substitution of parties – Addition of parties – Mistake – s.35 Limitation Act 1980 – CPR 17.4 and 19.5(3)


Facts

D published an article about an alleged proposed joint venture for a new casino in Manchester between C1, who owned and ran casinos and associated businesses in Las Vegas, specifically through C2 a company of which he was chairman and chief executive officer, and a third party owner of a football club. The article suggested that such a venture would bring unwelcome changes to football in general and to the football club in question in particular. The article also contained an account of C1’s business activities throughout his working life. C1 and C2 sued in libel. Subsequently they applied for permission to amend the claim to add as claimants two corporate subsidiaries of C1. Tugendhat J dismissed the application, holding (i) that the application involved not merely the addition of new claimants but also of new claims and (ii) that no mistake had been established that fell within CPR 19.5(3). Cs appealed.


Issue

Whether the Judge was right to refuse permission to amend; the correct test for the grant of permission to amend under CPR 19.5(3); whether the Cs’ application satisfied that test


Held

Appeal dismissed.

The correct test on applications to amend under CPR 19.5(3) was that applied in The Sardinia Sulcis [1991] 2 Lloyds Rep 201 to applications to amend under RSC O.20 r.5. The less restrictive test adopted in Morgan Est v Hanson Concrete [2005] 1 WLR 2557, CA, was disapproved. As was the ‘working test’ suggested in Weston v Gribben [2006] EWCA Civ 1425. The Court observed ‘we are not convinced that it is impossible to treat this as a case of substitution, merely because the proposed amendments result in three corporate claims rather than one’ (at §66), but dismissed the appeal because the Cs had not adduced evidence that C2 was named in the claim form ‘in mistake for any other company’.


Comment

This decision is concerned with a fairly esoteric area of the law of limitation. After experimenting with some new tests for when permission should be granted to substitute new parties after the expiry of a limitation period, the CA has sought to achieve clarity by reverting to the old RSC test. Nevertheless, in the libel context, the case underlines the importance of naming the correct corporate claimant or claimants at the outset.


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Instructing Solicitors

Schillings for the Claimants; Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP for the Defendant