Full case report

Broxton v McClelland (No.2)

Reference [1996] EWCA Civ 955; [1997] EMLR 157
Court Court of Appeal

Judge Staughton & Swinton Thomas LJJ and Judge J

Date of Judgment 14 Nov 1996


Defamation – Libel – conduct of jury trial


The Claimant had been defamed in Paris-Soir (which was the subject of a separate action). She alleged that the article had been published by the Defendants in this case by: (1) sending it attached to a letter to one person who then displayed it in a shop window in Spain (2) pinning it to a shop window in London. The jury only found that the letter had been published attached to the said letter and awarded zero damages for this publication.


(1) General challenge by the Claimant as to the conduct of the trial by the trial judge; (2) the admission of evidence regarding the dispute between the Defendants and the Claimant’s maintainer; and (3) the award of zero damages for the publication to one person.


All bases for the appeal were rejected. The court reaffirmed the very high threshold required to overturn a libel jury verdict: “. . . in an action for libel a Court of Appeal should pay no regard to any supposed misdirection by the Judge, on law or fact, unless it was plainly such as to lead to a substantial miscarriage of justice.”


The admission of the evidence regarding the maintenance of the Claimant by the Defendants’ commercial rival demonstrates the way in which apparently irrelevant evidence can be called in libel trials on the issue of damage to the claimant (e.g., as here, the maintainer evidence was relevant to the genuineness of the Claimant in claiming that she had suffered damage to reputation and feelings).

Instructing Solicitors

Bindman & Partners for the Defendant