The Judge was satisfied that the Claimant had satisfied s.12(2)(a) of the Human Rights Act and taken all practicable steps to notify the Defendant of the hearing.
Since judgment had been entered, the Claimant’s solicitors had used post, text messages and Twitter to inform the Defendant of steps taken in the proceedings. It could be readily inferred from the Defendant’s action, including subsequently blocking the Claimant’s solicitor on Twitter, that he was aware of the hearing.
There was no reason why the outstanding issues should proceed to a full trial. As judgment had already been entered, the threshold test for summary relief (s.8(3)) was to be applied to whether the trial of damages should be resolved by the summary procedure. That was clearly appropriate where, in this present case, the Claimant had elected the procedure and the Defendant had chosen not to participate or challenge the Claimant’s evidence.
Damages were awarded at the maximum amount permitted under s.9 of the 1996 Act, namely £10,000. Following a trial, damages in excess of £20,000 would have been justified. The allegations were “serious”, but the extent of publication was limited. The Defendant’s conduct, including his refusal to remove the tweets complained of in response to a court order, “increased the importance of the vindicatory element” of the award.
Despite the Defendant’s failure to engage in the proceedings, which made it unlikely that he would engage with the Claimant to agree the wording of a suitable correction and apology for publication by him, the Judge made an order under s.9(1)(b).