Full case report

Harrods Ltd v Dow Jones & Co Inc

Reference [2003] EWHC 1162 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Eady J

Date of Judgment 22 May 2003


Defamation – libel – jurisdiction – whether the claimant could sue the defendant in this jurisidiction


The Claimant sued over an article entitled “The Enron of Britain” published in the Wall Street Journal (U.S. edition). There were less than 20 publishees in the jurisdiction.


Application for a stay on forum grounds by the Defendant and application to serve out of the jurisdiction by the Claimant.


The stay on forum grounds was refused and permission was granted to serve out of the jurisdiction. There were publications within the jurisdiction and they were arguably tortious. There was no “single publication rule” and therefore that could not be relied upon. Since damage was presumed in a defamation action the fact that there was no evidence of actual damage to reputation would not prevent a claim being brought.


Whilst this case merely applies well known legal principles it does establish a useful precedent for claimants seeking to sue within the jurisdiction where the “substance” of the publication took place elsewhere and publication within the jurisdiction was minimal. But minimal circulation in this jurisdiction will not always guarantee success on jurisdiction: in this case, a US judge had stated that the US was not the appropriate forum for the action.

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Instructing Solicitors

Kendall Freeman for the Claimant


Harrods hoax leads to libel litigation - The Guardian
Harrods loses 'Enron' libel case - BBC
Mohamed Al Fayed loses libel case - The Guardian