Reference:  EWHC 527 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Sharp J
Date of judgment: 19 Feb 2010
Summary: Media Law - Defamation - Libel - Disclosure - CPR 31.22 - Corrective witness statement to explain change of stance - CPR 18 - Appeal from decision of Master whether to Order the Claimant to produce the original of his United States Security Card
Appearances: Adam Speker KC (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Tehrani & Co for C; RPC for D
C, a former solicitor who is currently suspended from practice by the Law Society sued D, the publisher of the Daily Mail and (at that time) the Evening Standard for libel in respect of a number of articles alleging that he committed fraud, has bogus academic and legal qualifications and employed a serving Met police officer as a secret expert to assist a defendant in a prosecution involving the Met.
On 19 February 2010 an application by D came before the Court seeking an Order that C properly comply with his disclosure obligations and give specific disclosure. Having originally opposed the application stating that it was designed to deliberately vex him C, through his Leading Counsel, made a complete volte face (as the Judge put it) and accepted that the disclosure had been inadequate.
An appeal also came before the Court on the same day from a decision of Master Fontaine for C to produce the original of his United States Security card for inspection
(1) Whether the Order for disclosure should be made
(2) Whether the Appeal should be allowed
Ordering disclosure and dismissing C’s appeal:
(1) C having conceded that an Order should be made, the Judge made the Order in the terms sought by D and went on to state that it was perfectly clear that C’s disclosure was defective and ordered that C serve a further witness statement explaining, in as much detail as he can, how it came about that in December 2009 he said that the defendant was not entitled to the relief which it sought and on the day of the application supplied a witness statement in which it was conceded that the defendant was so entitled.
(2) Contrary to the submissions of C, the Master did have regard to C’s privacy rights and incorporated protection for them within her Order. The Master made no error of law and was entitled in her exercise of discretion to make the Order that she did.
An example of a tough approach towards a litigant whose disclosure was defective and who had originally opposed an application for proper disclosure before doing what the Judge described as a ‘volte face’.