King v Lewis

Reference: [2004] EWHC 168 (QB)

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Eady J

Date of judgment: 6 Feb 2004

Summary: Defamation - Libel - Civil procedure - Service out of the jurisdiction - Appropriate forum

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Appearances: Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Claimant)  James Price QC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)  Justin Rushbrooke QC (Defendant)  David Sherborne (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Morgan Lewis & Bockius for the Claimant; Forbes Anderson for the Defendant

Facts

Don King was involved in litigation in the USA with Lennox Lewis and the second Defendant, a Nevada-based promotion company. This was Don King’s libel claim for publications on the internet by the third Defendant, the lawyer representing Lewis in the American litigation. All of the parties were based in the USA. King brought proceedings in the UK and was granted permission to serve out of the jurisdiction. The Defendants sought to set that order aside.

Issue

(1) Whether this was an appropriate case for service outside of the jurisdiction.
(1) Whether England and Wales was the appropriate forum.

Held

(1) This was an appropriate case for service outside of the jurisdiction as, applying the rule that publication takes place where material is heard or read and observing that the claim was limited to publications within England and Wales, the tort had been committed and the damage had been suffered within the jurisdiction.
(2) England and Wales was the appropriate forum. The general presumption was the the appropriate forum was where the tort was committed. It was significant that the Claimant had a substantial reputation within the jurisdiction, and that the relevant websites were popular and frequently accessed from within the jurisdiction.

Comment

This decision raised interesting questions about responsibility for publication in an international context. Eady J was satisfied that it was an issue of fact and that permission to serve the Claim Form outside the jurisdiction should not be set aside.