Creative Resins International Ltd v Glasslam Europe Ltd & Others
Reference:  EWHC 777 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Tugendhat J
Date of judgment: 3 May 2005
Summary: Defamation - Libel - Solicitors - Qualified Privilege - Protection of client's interests - Malice - Summary Judgment - CPR Part 24
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Jonathan Barnes QC (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: DMH Stallard for the Second Defendant
The Claimant (C) produced equipment and raw materials for the production of decorative glass panels. The first Defendant (D1) developed and supplied resin products for use in the glass industry. The second Defendants (D2) were a firm of solicitors. D2 wrote a letter, on behalf of D1, to the managing director of another company, Classic, who manufactured and sold door panels. The letter alleged, inter alia, that C’s manufacturing methods and products were defective, and that C had a history of infringing intellectual property rights. C brought a libel claim over the allegations. D2 applied for summary judgment or an order that the claim against them be struck out.
(1) Whether summary judgment should be granted in favour of D2;
(2) Whether the claim against D2 should be struck out.
Application dismissed. D1 had not waived privilege in respect of the communications between it and D2 that led to the writing of the letter, and it may very well do so at some future point. It was therefore not possible to say that the court was in as good a position to deal with the issues as it would be at trial. C had a real prospect of success as against D1, and there were questions to be asked of how D2 came to write the letter in its final form. The position of the solicitors could raise questions of some difficulty as to matters both of law and fact. This was not a case where C was simply hoping something might turn up.
This case is interesting for its discussion of the role of a solicitor when acting for a client and the application of the case of Regan v Taylor: a solicitor is not to be regarded “a mere channel of information”.