Full case report

Noorani v Calver (No 2 Costs)

Reference [2009] EWHC 592 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division, Liverpool District Registry

Judge Coulson J

Date of Judgment 25 Mar 2009


Summary

Defamation – Libel – Discontinuance – Indemnity costs – Payment on account – Conditional fee agreements


Facts

C sued D over a letter published in June 2007 to fellow members of the Executive Council of the West Wirral Conservative Association. D admitted publication of the letter and defended the libel claim on the basis of qualified privilege and justification. C discontinued on the third day of trial before a Judge and jury, shortly after the conclusion of his cross-examination.


Issue

Should the Claimant pay the Defendant’s costs of the action on the indemnity basis?


Held

An indemnity costs order was appropriate, for two reasons. First, the Defendant had made offers which the Claimant had failed to beat and the Claimant’s pre-trial conduct was both “unreasonable to a high degree” and “out of the norm”. Second, the underlying claim was fundamentally flawed and the jury was highly likely to find that the allegations complained of were true. C was ordered to pay £50,000 on account within 14 days.


Comment

A factor in the award of indemnity costs was the Judge’s disapproval of the way in which the Claimant’s CFA with his lawyers had inured him “to the chilly winds of reality”. In a phrase which may echo through the ongoing debate about CFAs in defamation Coulson J said: “In my judgment, the conduct of libel proceedings on credit is a thoroughly bad idea”.


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Instructing Solicitors

E Rex Makin & Co. for the Defendant; Kirwans for the Claimant


Links

Court victory for wirral conservative - Liverpool Daily Post
High Court judge attacks use of conditional fees in libel actions - Solicitors Journal