McBride v Body Shop International plc
Reference:  EWHC 1658 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Eady J
Date of judgment: 10 Jul 2007
Summary: Libel - Summary judgment - Abuse of process - Use of documents obtained in the course of disclosure
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Alexandra Marzec (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Claimant in person; Baker & McKenzie for the Defendant
C brought a libel action based on a section of a document that she had obtained during disclosure in employment proceedings she had brought against her former employers, D. C had discontined the employment proceedings close to the conclusion of the hearing in the ET. The document was an internal memo addressed to 2 members of D’s management team and was clearly protected by qualified privilege.
D sought to strike out the libel proceedings on the grounds that:
(a) the use of the document to found the claim should be disallowed under CPR 31.22(2);
(b) the proceedings were Jameel abuse of process;
(c) the relief sought in the libel action could and should have been claimed in the employment proceedings.
(1) Pursuant to CPR 31.22(2) C should not be allowed to use the document to found a libel claim, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, including the fact that the document was clearly privileged and there was no evidence of malice;
(2) The action was an abuse of process pursuant to Jameel principles.
The court took a broad merits-based approach to determining the question under CPR 31.22(2), and decided that this was not an action that should be allowed to proceed. For much the same reasons, the court made a rare finding that the claim constituted a Jameel abuse of process, in that there was little C had to gain by it, even if she won.