McManus v Beckham

Reference: [2002] EWCA Civ 939; [2002] EMLR 880; [2002] 1 WLR 2982

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Waller, Clark, Laws LLJ

Date of judgment: 4 Jul 2002

Summary: Defamation - Slander - liability for republication - foreseeability - special damage

Appearances: Desmond Browne QC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)  Justin Rushbrooke QC (Defendant)  Jonathan Barnes (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Richards Butler for the Claimant; Lee & Thompson for the Defendant

Facts

Whilst visiting the claimants’ autograph shop the defendant allegedly claimed that a signed photograph of her husband, David Beckham, was not genuine. The shop sought to rely on the subsequent publication in the media of the defendant’s alleged claims in support of its claim for damages. The judge at first instance struck out the shop’s plea in this respect.

Issue

Whether the shop could rely at trial on an allegation that the claimant was responsible for subsequent press coverage of her visit to the shop.

Held

The plea would be reinstated to go to the jury at trial, who would be directed to consider the questions of whether the defendant knew that what she had allegedly said was likely to be reported and that if she slandered someone that slander was likely to be repeated or a reasonable person in the position of the defendant should have appreciated that there was a signficant risk that what she had allegedly said would be repeated.

Comment

This case brings the law on remoteness of damage in defamation into line with existing tort law principles.