Richardson v Schwarzenegger & Others
Reference:  EWHC 2422 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Eady J
Date of judgment: 29 Oct 2004
Summary: Libel - Service out - CPR 6.20 - liability for republication - qualified privilege - reply to attack - agent and principal
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David Sherborne (Claimant)
Instructing Solicitors: Campbell Hooper for the Claimant
An application was made on behalf of the Second Defendant to set aside an order granting permission for service out of the jurisdiction. The Claimant alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by Mr Schwarzenegger in December 2000 whilst interviewing him about his new film ‘The Sixth Day’. The Second Defendant was retained as Mr. Schwarzenegger’s political publicist and was alleged to be his principal spokesperson. He responded to the Claimant’s allegations on behalf of Mr Schwarzenegger in an interview with the LA Times in 2003 stating that ‘[AS] had not engaged in improper conduct towards women.’ The relevant edition of the LA Times was published on the Internet and so was published in the UK. The Claimant issued proceedings for libel alleging that the Second Defendant had claimed that she had dishonestly fabricated her allegation of sexual assault.
The action related solely to the Second Defendant.
(1) Should the order grating permission for service out be set aside on grounds of forum non conveniens?
(2) Did the Defendant have an unanswerable defence of qualified privilege?
(3) Is it appropriate to request injunctive relief in an action where the Defendant has no connection with this jurisdiction and thus making the remedy unenforceable?
Application dismissed. (1) The correct forum is the one where it is just and reasonable for the Defendant to answer for his alleged wrongdoing. The Claimant was a UK citizen who lived and worked in the UK. She had an established reputation in the UK. She had no comparable connection with any other jurisdiction. Damage was presumed to that reputation in the UK. (2) The defence of qualified privilege depended on a number of facts, none of which could be resolved summarily. (3) There were problems of enforceability of the fruits of any judgment. However, if she were successful, the Claimant would be entitled to an injunction to prevent republication in the UK.
Here the Court applied two familiar principles: (1) a defendant is taken to be responsible for the republication which takes place as an appreciable consequence of what he says (<A
href=”https://www.5rb.com/5rb/casereports/detail_redirect.asp?case=46″ target=_parent>McManus v Beckham); and (2) publication on the Internet gives rise to a cause of action in the UK and the so-called “single-publication rule” has no application under English law (<A
href=”https://www.5rb.com/5rb/casereports/detail_redirect.asp?case=290″ target=_parent>King v Lewis). The application of these principles shows the width of the potential liability of foreigners for defamatory remarks published on the Internet. If these remarks are made about someone who has a reputation to protect in the UK, the Court is unlikely to stay any claim on the basis that another jurisdiction is clearly more appropriate.