Applause Store Productions Ltd & Firsht v Raphael
Reference:  EWHC 1781 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Richard Parkes QC
Date of judgment: 24 Jul 2008
Summary: Libel - Privacy - Internet publication - Social networking website - Quantum
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Instructing Solicitors: Olswang for the Claimants; Bar Pro Bono Unit for the Defendant
C1 and C2, brought claims against D, a former friend of C1, in respect of a Facebook group and profile which contained defamatory material relating to the credit worthiness of C1 and his company (C2). C1 also claimed in respect of misuse of private information relating to his sexuality. The Cs had obtained a Norwich Pharmacal order requiring Facebook to disclose the registration data of the user responsible for setting up the pages. The IP address disclosed by Facebook matched D’s computer. D denied that he was responsible for creating the profile and group page and gave evidence that strangers who had been at a party at his house at the relevant times must have been responsible.
Whether D was responsible for the publication;
If he was, the appropriate sum to be awarded by way of damages.
The material on the profile and group page contained both defamatory and private material. D’s evidence on the creation of the pages was entirely implausible: D was lying about his involvement and was the person responsible for the publication of the material.
As to quantum: the allegations were serious but not at the top end of the scale; the pages were likely to have been accessed by a substantial number of people, (although less than 100); the damage was aggravated by D’s defence. C1 was awarded £15,000 including aggravated damages for the libel and C2 was awarded £5,000. C1 was also awarded £2,000 in respect of his privacy claim.
A common problem in “internet libel” claims is the typically limited extent of publication and the inherent evidential difficulties where no record of “hits” is available. In this instance, the judge found a “substantial two figure, rather than a three-figure, number” amounted to a “not insubstantial” number of people for the purposes of assessing quantum.