Full case report
Gentoo Group Ltd (formerly Sunderland Housing Co Ltd) v Hanratty
Reference  EWHC 2328 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division
Judge Eady J
Date of Judgment 8 Oct 2008
Defamation – Libel – Harassment – Mode of trial – Judge and jury – Prolonged examination of documents – s.69 Supreme Court Act 1981
The applicant (G) had issued defamation and harassment proceedings against H in relation to material published on a website and associated forum. G applied to vary the mode of trial from judge and jury to judge alone. G submitted that the case would involve prolonged and careful scrutiny of the documentary evidence and the issues could not be resolved in a broad-brush way.
Whether there should be trial by judge alone
The judge allowed the application, holding that there would be a prolonged examination of documents which could not conveniently be made with a jury, and that the Court should not exercise its discretion to order trial with a jury: Aitken v Preston  EMLR 417 applied.
Eady J expressed the view that “to attempt to reach a fair solution in the present case with a jury grappling with so many different documents would be something of a ‘nightmare’”.
Olswang for G; H appeared in person
More from 5RB
5RB is the pre-eminent set in the area for handling defamation, privacy, contempt and data protection matters. Interviewees praise the set for having great depth and quality of counsel, and note that it boasts many of the top barristers in the field. Get the lowdown here.
New 22nd Edition of Clerk & Lindsell on Torts, published by Sweet & Maxwell. Further info here.