Soriano v Le Point & Anor
Reference:  EWHC 3370 (KB)
Court: High Court of Justice, King's Bench Division
Judge: Mrs Justice Hill
Date of judgment: 23 Dec 2022
Summary: Libel - Specific disclosure - Subscriber data
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David Sherborne (Claimant)
Ben Hamer (Claimant)
Instructing Solicitors: Rechtschaffen Law (for the Claimant); Ince Gordon Dadds LLP (for the Defendants)
The Claimant brought a defamation claim against the Defendant, a French news magazine, over an article published on its website.
The Defendant denied the claims and pleaded a defence public interest but did not plead a defence of truth.
The Claimant sought specific disclosure from the Defendant of certain documents, including material held by the second Defendant (the author of the article) on his mobile devices and a list of identities and addresses of subscribers to the online version of the article who had accessed it from England and Wales.
- Whether the Second Defendant should be required to search his mobile devices for documents responsive to the search term used in standard disclosure, as well as for material using further relevant search terms under paragraphs 1(a) and (b) of the draft order.
- Whether the Claimant is entitled to a list of the identities and addresses of the subscribers who accessed the article on the website since it was published, as well as a document containing this information or identifying any other subscribers who viewed the article meeting the test in CPR 31.16.
- The court granted the application for specific disclosure, ordering the Second Defendant to search his mobile devices for documents responsive to the search term used in standard disclosure as well as for material responsive to the search terms under paragraphs 1(a) and (b) of the draft order. The searches could reveal matters relevant to the defence of public interest.
- The court also granted the application for specific disclosure regarding the identities and addresses of the subscribers who accessed the article on the website since it was published. The court found that the subscriber information was relevant to the issue of serious harm and that the order sought was proportionate and appropriate in light of all the circumstances of the case and the overriding objective. However, the court noted that concerns about data protection rights could be addressed by redaction of certain information and the implied undertaking under the CPR prohibiting collateral use of disclosed material.
The court granted both applications for specific disclosure sought by the Claimant, ordering the Second Defendant to search his mobile devices and granting access to the identities and addresses of subscribers who accessed the article on the website. The court found that both orders were appropriate in light of the circumstances of the case and the overriding objective.