Full case report

Maris & Others v Walsh

Reference [2003] EWHC 1417 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Gray J

Date of Judgment 11 Jun 2003


Summary

Defamation – Libel – breach of confidence – threat to publish -interim injunction.


Facts

The Defendant who lived in Malta threatened to publish defamatory allegations and confidential information in the UK about the Claimant and associated companies. The Claimant obtained an injunction without notice and on the return date came before Gray J. The Defendant did not attend and had not responded to the service of the injunction or the proceedings.


Issue

Whether the injunction should be continued.


Held

Injunction continued to trial: Jurisdiction existed to impose the requested relief as the injunction sought to restrain acts threatened in the UK which would damage the Claimant in the UK. There was a real prospect of success of succeeding in the claim in confidence. There was an abundance of evidence to support the conclusion that the allegations were plainly defamatory and untrue. A defence of privilege might be available but the court was satisfied it would be defeated by malice. There was a continuing need for an injunction.


Comment

This case shows that injunctions to prevent threatened libels, although rare, can still be obtained in appropriate circumstances. It helps if (1) the Defendant does not attend (2) he does not assert the truth of the allegations (3) the allegations can be shown to be false on an analysis of the documents and (4) the threat to publish can fairly be described as an attempt to extort.


Instructing Solicitors

Olswang for the Claimants