Full case report

Ernst & Young v Coomber

Reference [2010] EWHC 2837 (QB) & 2838 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Eady J

Date of Judgment 8 Nov 2010


Summary

Defamation – Summary disposal – Damages – Civil Restraint Order


Facts

The Defendants ran a website in which they accused the Claimants of corruption and conspiracy. The Claimants also sued for libel. The Defendants issued proceedings in the Chancery Division based on the same allegations. Those proceedings were struck out. The Defendants issued fresh proceedings based on very similar allegations.


Issue

(1) Whether the case was suitable for summary disposal;

(2) The appropriate level of damages;

(3) Whether the court should order that the Defendants publish a retraction;

(4) Whether the fresh proceedings should be struck out;

(5) Whether the court should make a civil restraint order.


Held

(1) The case was suitable for summary disposal. The Defendant had no realisitic prospect of resisting a finding that there had been substantial publication of the defamatory allegations. Given the findings of the judge striking out the Chancery Division action, there was no other defence with had a realistic prospect of succeeding.

(2) The First Claimant, an LLP, would be awarded £5000 damages. The Second to Sixth Claimants, all individuals, would each be awarded the staturory maximum of £10,000 damages.

(3) The Defendants would be ordered to publish a retraction, subject to the parties seeking to agree the wording in accordance with the statutory procedure.

(4) The fresh proceedings would be struck out.

(5) An extended civil restraint order would be granted.


Comment

A rare example of the court exercising its powers under the summary disposal regime.


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Instructing Solicitors

Olswang LLP for the Claimants; Defendants did not appear and were not represented