Purnell v F1 Business Magazine Ltd & Another

Reference: [2007] EWCA Civ 744; [2008] 1 WLR 1

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Chadwick & Laws LJJ & Evans-Lombe J

Date of judgment: 18 Apr 2007

Summary: Defamation - Justification defence struck out - Jury to determine quantum of damages - Effect of the prior reasoned judgment re the strike out on vindicatory element of the jury award

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Instructing Solicitors: David Price & Co for the Appellant/Claimant; Steeles for the Respondent/Defendant


The C sued in libel re allegations made in Business F1 Magazine. The only defence was justification. This defence was struck out on the ground that no reasonable jury could conclude on the Ds’ case that the article could be substantially true. The remaining issue concerning quantum was tried by a jury. The trial judge directed the jury that one of the functions of their award of damages could be to vindicate the Claimant. The jury awarded £75,000 in damages.


Was it wrong for the trial judge to direct that the jury could include an element for vindication in its award of damages given that the existence of the prior reasoned judgment re the strike out had already arguably provided the C with vindication.


Refusing the appeal:

Whilst a prior reasoned judgment striking out a justification defence was capable of providing some vindication of the C’s reputation and had to be taken account of in order to comply with Article 10, its effect would generally be marginal. On the instant facts, the C’s need for vindication could only be satisfied if given effect by the jury’s award of damages.


This case qualifies the obiter statements made by the House of Lords in Dingle v Associated Newspapers Ltd [1964] AC 371 to the effect that such a judgment could have no effect upon an award of damages.