C had brought proceedings against D following publication of a number of articles in 2002 which had accused A of involvement in serious criminal activity, murder and drug dealing.
A sought an injunction and damages contending that the content of the articles, which included details of his partner, and a photograph of them together at a wedding, had created a real risk to his life and security, infringed his right to privacy and damaged both his and his family’s family life and relations (breaches of Arts 2, 3 and 8 ECHR). He claimed for both misuse of private information and harassment.
An interim injunction was granted in 2009 restraining publication of certain particulars, which was followed by a full trial of the issues.
Ultimately the privacy claim was successful in part, but the harassment claim failed. On appeal, the CA upheld the judge’s decision, albeit on different reasoning. It also allowed A’s appeal in relation to the identification of his partner in the articles and the publication of a photograph of them together.
The CA awarded A 70% of the costs of the appeal and, following that decision, in a later quantum hearing on damages, the judge awarded A £1,000.
After hearing submissions on costs the judge, in a costs ruling on 2 Dec 2011, concluded that there was no ‘special case’ to warrant a departure from the normal rules under s. 59(2) of the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (the “Act”). S. 59 stipulated that, if the relief or damages sought could have been obtained in the County Court, unless there is some special cause, costs should be limited to those that could be awarded there.