Colbeck v Ferguson & Another
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Sir Ian Kennedy
Date of judgment: 24 Jan 2002
Malicious falsehood - Employment Law - Separate proceedings - Documents read in open court - Disclosure - Basis of claim
In separate employment proceedings, five memoranda written by the second Defendant had been read out in court. The Claimant based an action in malicious falsehood on these documents.
The District Judge held that the fact that the documents were read in open court did not mean that the Claimant could use them as a basis for an action in malicious falsehood.
Whether documents read in open court could found an action in malicious falsehood
The court followed Eady J in Ruddy v Mercury Personal Communications Ltd (Unreported, 31/7/2000) in preferring the authority of Mahon v Rahn  3 All ER 687 to that of Singh v Christie & Ors  EMLR 579 in holding that the documents could found such an action.
After some period of uncertainty, it is now clear that once the implied undertaking has been released by documents being read or referred to in open court, the documents can be used for any purpose including subsequent litigation brought on their contents.