Court: Leeds County Court
Judge: HHJ Gosnell
Date of judgment: 7 Jun 2012
Summary: Harassment - Protection from Harassment Act - privacy - personal injury - level of damages
Jacob Dean (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Carter-Ruck
The Claimant, a former director of Leeds United Football Club, and his wife, sued the First Defendant, the current Chairman of Leeds United and the club itself, over publications, primarily in the programme for home games, which they said amounted to unlawful harassment of them.
Should both claims under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 succeed, and if so what level of damages should be awarded?
The claim of the First Claimant succeeded and he was awarded £10,000 damages. His wife’s claim failed.
The line separating publications which are lawful exercises of the publisher’s right to freedom of expression and those which are unlawful statutory torts under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is not easy to draw, despite the requirement that, for a claim in harassment to succeed, the conduct must be of an order that would sustain criminal liability. This case is a good illustration of the intense focus on the facts which the Court will undertake when considering the issue. It is also notable for the fact that the anxiety and distress caused to the Claimants was so great that a claim for damages for personal injury was made. The Judge awarded the First Claimant a modest sum for the pyschiatric damage he had suffered.