Adelson v Associated Newspapers Ltd

Reference: [2007] EWHC 997 (QB); The Times, 10 May 2007

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Tugendhat J

Date of judgment: 1 May 2007

Summary: Defamation – Limitation – Substitution of parties – Addition of parties - Mistake - s.35 Limitation Act 1980 – Civil Procedure Rules 1998

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Appearances: Justin Rushbrooke KC (Claimant)  Godwin Busuttil (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Schillings for the Claimants; Reynolds Porter Chamberlain for the Defendant


D had published a newspaper 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, in particular through C2 a company of which he was chairman and chief executive officer, and a third party owner of a football team. The article suggested that such a venture would bring unwelcome changes to football in general and to the football team in question in particular. The article also contained an account of C1’s business activities throughout his working life. Both Cs brought a claim in libel. Subsequently they applied for permission to amend the claim so as to add as claimants two companies, respectively a subsidiary company of C2 and a UK incorporated holding company owned by C1 and the subsidiary.


Whether there was jurisdiction to grant an application to amend pleadings by the substitution of one or more claimants for one original claimant in a claim in libel once the limitation period had expired.


Dismissing the application; in libel each claimant had a claim because the defamatory words referred to it. At most, only one new party may be substituted in an action where it is to stand in place of one original claimant. If the number of claimants was to be increased by an amendment made after the expiry of the limitation period, then there had to be an application to add a new claim, or to extend the limitation period. Accordingly if C2 was to remain as a party, neither of the two companies could be made claimants.


This is one in a series of interim rulings in this action, notable only for the position it states with regard to the substitution of parties in defamation claims once the limitation period has elapsed.