Polanski v Conde Nast Publications Ltd (CA)

Reference: [2003] EWCA Civ 1573; [2004] 1 WLR 387; [2004] 1 All ER 1220; [2004] EMLR 7

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Simon Brown, Jonathan Parker & Thomas LJ

Date of judgment: 11 Nov 2003

Summary: Defamation - Libel - Civil procedure - Civil evidence - Human Rights - CPR - Video conference link

Instructing Solicitors: Reynolds Porter Chamberlain for Conde Nast. Schillings for Mr Polanski.


The Claimant was resident in France and did not wish to give his evidence live in London because he was a fugitive from US justice and feared that he would be arrested in London and extradited to the US. This was an appeal from the decision of Eady J to allow the Claimant to give his evidence from Paris via video conference link.


Whether the Claimant should be allowed to give his evidence via video conference link.


The court should have regard to all the circumstances in deciding whether to make an order for evidence via video conference link. In the present circumstances, the Claimant was not to be permitted to give his evidence via video conference link. The Claimant’s rights under Article 6 of the ECHR were not infringed by making his access to justice conditional upon his attendance at court.


What appears on the surface to be a case management decision, in fact has a much more far reaching impact. True it was that Polanski was a “fugitive” and would be arrested if he entered the UK, but depriving him of a video link in order to participate in properly constituted proceedings in the UK is for all practical purposes tantamount to striking out his case. The House of Lords has given leave to appeal in this case.