The 1st Claimant (C1) was a Delaware Corporation, the 2nd Claimant (C2) was its UK subsidiary. C2 had some 400 employees within the jurisdiction. The Cs provided services to clients whose employees were moving from one place to another. D1 and D2 were the directors of a company, Atlantic Corporate Relocation Ltd (‘ACRL’), which had been used as a sub-contractor by the Cs to move freight. Having provided services to the Cs between 2003 and 2012, ACRL was suspended from its partnership with them following an audit in 2012. In 2014 ACRL went into voluntary liquidation.
There was an intimate relationship between an employee of C1 and an employee of the Ds. The Ds alleged that this individual had put pressure on ACRL to enter unreasonably low bids for work. Following a large number of audits by ACRL, and the departure of the Ds’ employee, there was a suspension of arrangements between the companies. The aggrieved Ds wrote a document entitled “The Ugly Truth” and sent a copy to the Cs in February 2013.
The leaflet was not published and negotiations took place between the parties’ lawyers. However, on 17 March 2014 D1 sent C1 an email which said that due to the Cs’ non-responsiveness a “covering letter” would be sent to each and every client of the Cs by close of business on the following day. The letter said “The Ugly Truth” was attached. The email continued “You do the maths”.
Discussions between the lawyers continued, but an attorney for the Ds refused on Thursday 20 March 2014 to provide a written undertaking not to publish “The Ugly Truth”. On that day Supperstone J granted an interim injunction to restrain the document’s publication on the Cs’ without notice application.
The hearing on notice for continuation of the injunction was due to take place 7 days later. It was postponed and the Cs issued a further application notice. The Ds had served a Defence which pleaded Truth and Qualified Privilege. In their application the Cs asked the Court to rule on the meanings of “The Ugly Truth” and its covering letter, to strike out the defences of Truth and Qualified Privilege, and to grant a final injunction in an amended form.
The Defence said the Ds no longer intended to publish “The Ugly Truth” or the same or similar words. They served a proposed Amended Defence which recast the meanings of “The Ugly Truth” and the covering letter which the Defendants were prepared to defend as true and repeated that any such publication would be covered by qualified privilege.