Abu v MGN Ltd

Reference: [2002] EWHC 2345 (QB); [2003] 1 WLR 2201; [2003] 2 All ER 864; [2003] EMLR 21

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Eady J

Date of judgment: 7 Nov 2002

Summary: Defamation - Libel - offer of amends- principles to be applied in assessing compensation under s3(5) of the Defamation Act 1996- damages

Appearances: Adrienne Page KC - Leading Counsel (Claimant)  David Sherborne (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Charles Russell for the Claimant


The Claimant brought proceedings for libel against the publisher of the Sunday People. The Defendant made an offer of amends and accepted the article was untrue but wished to refer to certain facts which were common ground and a number of convictions for unrelated offences. The parties applied to the court for directions for the assessment of compensation under s3(5) of the Act.


How were the principles under s3(5) to be applied by the Court.


The principles to be applied under s3(5), whether in the course of libel proceedings or without any action having been brought, were precisely the same as on an assessment of damages in libel proceedings. Thus the established principles with regard to such matters as mitigation, aggravation and causation of loss applied including the gloss added by the Court of Appeal’s decision in Burstein v Times Newspapers Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 579
There should be nothing “rough and ready” about the assessment. The procedure was not to be confused with summary disposal. That may mean that statements of case or at least notification of matters to be relied upon would be required.


These are helpful but unsurprising guidelines. Where a defendant has made an offer of amends it should not be necessary for the matter to proceed to a hearing and in this case the matter settled soon afterwards.