Sleeman v Panchaud
The Claimant had obtained a without notice injunction from the vacation judge prohibiting the Defendant from "defaming the Claimant or from making or publishing any statement which is a libel of or malicious falsehood about the Claimant." There were two defamatory publictions complained of - a letter to the Claimant's patent attorneys (in response to a cease and desist letter) and an email published to one recipient. The Claimant contended that the defamatory meaning of both publications was that the Claimant was guilty of fraud. The Defendant contended that the publications bore the lesser meaning that there were grounds to suspect that Claimant was guilty of fraud and that it was intended to plead justification and qualified privilege in respect of the letter to the patent attorneys. Amongst the matters in issue was whether there were grounds to suspect the Claimant was in breach of s.110 of the Patents Act 1977 which makes it an offence to falsely represent items for sale are patented if they are not. The Defendant contended that it was clear that there was evidence to support a justification defence and that the injunction should be discharged as falling foul of the rule in Bonnard v Perryman.