Gaddafi v Telegraph Group Ltd (No.2)

Reference: 27/07/2000

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Eady J

Date of judgment: 27 Jul 2000

Summary: Defamation - Libel - Striking out - Delay - Abuse of Process - CPR 3.4(2)

Appearances: James Price QC - Leading Counsel (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Eversheds for the Claimant; Farrer & Co for the Defendant

Facts

The Claimant was Col. Gaddafi’s eldest son. He sued on articles published in the Sunday Telegraph on 26 November and 3 December 1995. The Defendant pleaded justification and qualified privilege. There was a delay with no steps taken in the action between October 1998 and March 2000.

Issue

Whether the action should be struck out for delay under CPR 3.4(2), and in particular whether it was still possible to have a fair trial of the issues on the pleadings.

Held

The action should not be struck out. The delay was not an affront to the court or in disregard of the norms of serious litigation, and evidence on the central issue – how far the Claimant was involved in the government of Libya – was unlikely to have been adversely affected by the delay. There was nothing unfair in letting the case go to trial.

Comment

This was an application in a libel context of the established post-CPR principles on delay, eg Arbuthnot Latham v Trafalgar Holdings, Biguzzi v Rank Leisure, Walsh v Missendine, Habib Bank v Jaffer, Khalili v Associated.