Mahfouz & Ors v Ehrenfeld & Anor
Reference:  EWHC 1156 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Eady J
Date of judgment: 3 May 2005
Summary: Defamation - Libel - Judgment in default - Summary disposal - ss.8-10 Defamation Act 1996 - Remedies - Damages - Injunction - Declaration of falsity
Instructing Solicitors: Kendall Freeman for the Claimants.
The Ds published a book in the US that alleged that the Cs provided massive financial support to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations. 23 copies of the book were sold to residents of this jurisdiction and the first chapter was freely available on the popular ABC News website. The Cs brought proceedings for libel. The Ds initially instructed solicitors and stated that they would justify the allegations but did not respond to the claim once served. The Cs obtained judgment by default. They each sought the remedies available under ss 8-10 of the Defamation Act 1996, namely damages (limited to £10,000), a declaration of falsity and an order for publication of a correction and apology.
What relief the Cs should be granted.
The maximum level of damages was granted in respect of each C. The allegations were very serious and nothing had been done to mitigate the effect of their publication. A declaration of falsity was granted and an injunction granted.
The judge was critical of the Defendants’ stance in the proceedings. They had stated publicly that they would justify the very serious allegations levelled against the Claimants but then chose not to take part in the action once the claim form had been issued. A declaration of falsity was granted as the Claimants had gone to some lengths to demonstrate the lack of merit in the Defendants’ allegations.