Nail v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Others (QBD)
Reference:  EWHC 647 (QB);  EMLR 362
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Eady J
Date of judgment: 26 Mar 2004
Summary: Defamation - Libel- offer of amends - assessment of damages
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Adrienne Page KC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Schillings for the Claimant; Farrer & Co for the Defendants
In 1998 Harper Collins published a biography of the Claimant entitled “Nailed”. He decided not to arouse interest in it by suing. In 2002 extracts from “Nailed” were published in the News of the World and the book attracted new consumer interest, selling about a hundred copies. The Claimant sued the News of the World for the offending article and, separately, Harper Collins for the editions of the book sold in 2002.
Both Harper Collins and the News of the World made offers of amends under s2 Defamation Act 1996 which the Claimant accepted. The court had to determine the appropriate levels of damages.
The Claimant was awarded £7,500 for the Harper Collins book and £22,500 for the News of the World article.
The Judge held that, as there was a public interest in encouraging media defendants to make offers of amends, damages awards in such cases ought to be “healthily discounted”.
The general trend of libel awards suggests that judges give significantly lower awards of damages than juries (see also Milne v Sunday Telegraph and Cleese v Associated Newspapers).