Al Amoudi v Brisard & Another

Reference: [2006] EWHC 1062 (QB); [2007] 1 WLR 113; [2006] 3 All ER 294

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Gray J

Date of judgment: 16 May 2006

Summary: Defamation - Libel - Publication on the Internet - Whether Claimant is entitled to presumption of law that substantial publication has taken place

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Appearances: Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Claimant)  Jonathan Barnes (Claimant)  Adam Speker (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Nabarro Nathanson for the Claimant; Reynolds Porter Chamberlain for the First Defendant

Facts

C sued the Ds over two reports uploaded on a website in Switzerland which he alleged accused him of terrorist funding and which he pleaded had been published to a “substantial but unquantifiable number of readers in the jurisdiction”. D pleaded limitation in respect of part of the publication period and did not admit that the words had been published here or denied that they had been.

Issue

Whether the C was entitled to a rebuttable presumption of law that substantial publication had taken place.

Held

There was no basis for concluding that in English law a claimant in a libel action on an internet publication was entitled to rely on a presumption of law that there has been substantial publication: Loutchansky v Times Newspapers [2001] EMLR 876 followed. A Claimant has to prove publication from the internet either to identifiable third parties or by asking the court to draw an inference based upon facts admitted or proved.

Comment

This decision re-affirms that a Claimant must plead and prove publication when complaining about an internet publication rather than have the issue presumed in his favour as a matter of law. The case settled shortly before trial and a statement in court was made on Tuesday 6 June 2006.