Full case report

Reuben & Others v Time Inc & Another (No.2)

Reference [2003] EWHC 1430 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Morland J

Date of Judgment 3 Jul 2003


Summary

Defamation – Libel – Validity of service – Service out of jurisdiction – Forum conveniens – Amendment of claim form – Earlier publication – s.35(5)(a), Limitation Act 1980


Facts

The first Defendant (Time) published an article in the June 2000 edition of Fortune magazine which was defamatory of the Claimants in the first action, brothers who ran an international metal trading business. A second action was brought over the same article by a company that was part of the first Claimants’ group. A significant number of copies of the article had been distributed in England and Wales, and publication on the Internet was also pleaded. Claim forms were issued on 14 June 2001 and the Claimants purported to serve them on Time’s London office on 4 October 2001. In case that service was invalid, on 5 October 2001 the Claimants obtained an ex-parte order for service outside of the jurisidiction for the first action but not the second.


Issue

(1) Whether the claim forms had been validly served.
(2) Forum conveniens.
(3) Whether the Claimants would be permitted to amend to plead earlier publication.


Held

(1) Applying an objective test, Time had not established a place of business in London and so neither claim form had been validly served on 4 October 2001. The second action had therefore lapsed and the first would be limited to publication in England and Wales.
(2) As the claim was limited to publication within England and Wales, this was the appropriate forum and a London trial would not inconvenience the Defendants.
(3) As the proposed amendment related to previous publication of the same article, the torts it related to arose out of the same or substantially the same facts so that s.35(5)(a) of the Limitation Act 1980 was satisified and the court would exercise its discretion in the Claimants’ favour and allow the amendment.


Comment

This is another example of the reluctance of the courts to deprive litigants of the opportunity to sue in this country over publications that took place here on the grounds of forum non conveniens.


Instructing Solicitors

Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners for the Claimants; Finers Stephens Innocent for the Defendant