Gur v Avrupa Newspaper Ltd & Anor (CA)
Reference:  EWCA Civ 594;  EMLR 4
Court: Court of Appeal
Judge: Buxton, Tuckey, Dyson LJJ
Date of judgment: 30 Apr 2008
Summary: Defamation - Libel - Damages - Article 6, ECHR - Reference to personal injury awards
Instructing Solicitors: Carmelite Chambers for the Claimant / Respondent
D1, a publisher of a Turkish newspaper had published articles alleging that C, a businessman, had (1) attempted to defraud the Turkish authorities by claiming that a £3-4 million building project was worth £6 million and (2) that he had tried to unlawfully obtain money from a charity. The Ds did not seek to justify or deny the libel and no apology had been offered. C was awarded £85,000 in damages. Ds appealed on various grounds including a complaint that they had not received a fair trial.
(1) Did the Ds receive a fair trial;
(2) Were the damages awarded excessive and disproportionate?
Dismissing the appeal:
The allegations that the Ds did not have a fair trial were wholly without foundation. In regard to damages, Ds’ submission that the judge had failed to have regard to the size of awards for personal injury damages was rejected. It was not appropriate to make detailed comparisons with personal injury awards, it should be used as a “check for reasonableness”. The Ds’ means were irrelevant to the assessment of damages – the observations suggesting otherwise in Steel & Morris v UK were obiter. There was no reason why a judge or jury should not be permitted to take account of previous awards made by a judge (as opposed to jury awards).
Dyson LJ made clear that in determining the appropriate level of damages a detailed comparison with personal injury awards was to be avoided, although regard could be had “in a general way” to personal injury awards as a check for reasonableness. Buxton LJ’s judgment includes a useful analysis of the application of the principles in Jones v Pollard used by the judge at first instance in arriving at the figure of £85,000.