Mr Modi is the former Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League (‘IPL’) and IMG is a sports, media and entertainment company. Mr Clarke is the Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (‘ECB’).
On 2 May 2010 Mr Clarke sent an email to Mr Manohar, the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (‘BCCI’) copied to Mr Srinivasan, the secretary of the BCCI and Mr Collier, the chief executive of the ECB. Mr Clarke’s email was a covering note forwarding another email written by Mr Stewart Regan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club which relayed information about a meeting held in Delhi on 31 March 2010 attended by Mr Regan, Mr Modi, representatives from IMG and two individuals from English county cricket clubs.
In separate actions, Mr Modi and IMG sued Mr Clarke for libel in respect of what he said in the email about Mr Modi and IMG. IMG also sued, by amendment, in respect of a letter written by Mr Clarke to Mr Manohar which was identical to the email save that certain words were omitted.
In his Defence Mr Clarke did not admit the words were defamatory and in addition raised affirmative defences of qualified privilege, honest opinion and justification. In their Replies, Mr Modi and IMG alleged malice.
At the Pre-Trial Review, Mr Clarke applied for rulings on whether the words complained of were capable of bearing any meaning defamatory of the Claimants. In a reserved judgment bearing the neutral citation  EWHC 1324 (QB) Tugendhat J ruled that the words were not capable of bearing any meanings defamatory of the Claimant. The Claimants appealed. Limited permisison to appeal was granted by Sir Richard Buxton.The hearing before the Court of Appeal proceeded as both an appeal and a renewed application for permission to appeal.