Maccaba v Lichtenstein (No 2 – mode of trial)

Reference: 02/04/2004

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Gray J

Date of judgment: 2 Apr 2004


Defamation - Slander - Mode of Trial - Judge and Jury- Prolonged Examination of Documents - s.69 Supreme Court Act 1981

Appearances: Justin Rushbrooke KC (Defendant)  David Sherborne (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Addleshaw Goddard for the Claimant; David Price Solicitors & Advocates for the Defendant


The Claimant applied to vary the mode of trial in his claim for slander, breach of confidence and harassment against the Defendant from judge and jury to judge alone. The Claimant submitted that the case would involve detailed investigation of covertly recorded conversations in Hebrew and English and that the transcripts by their length, nature and difficulty of comprehension would better be dealt with by a judge sitting alone.


Whether the mode of trial should be varied.


Dismissing the application. This was a classic case for trial by judge and jury. The main issue at trial would be which of the parties’ account of events was true. The individual issues such as publication and justification were factual and went to honesty and were fit for a jury to consider.


Whether a trial will involve a prolonged examination of documents is dependent upon the overall issues in the trial. Whilst a trial, such as this one, would necessarily involve looking at transcripts of conversations, it was unlikely that this would be a central issue.