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

Summary: Defamation - libel - jurisdiction - whether the claimant could sue the defendant in this jurisidiction

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Appearances: James Price QC - Leading Counsel (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Kendall Freeman for the Claimant

Facts

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.

Issue

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

Held

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.

Comment

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.