Workspace Commerce Ltd & ors v Filis

Reference: [2018] EWHC 2923 (QB)

Court: High Court, Queen’s Bench Division

Judge: Nicklin J

Date of judgment: 20 Aug 2018

Summary: Injunction - Bonnard v Perryman - Libel - Harassment - s.12 Human Rights Act

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Appearances: Greg Callus (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Child & Child for Cs; Clintons for D

Facts

C1 and C2 were companies in which C3 was now a director. D claimed to still be the rightful director of C1 and C2, and that the paperwork removing him and appointing C3 involved forged version’s of D’s signature. D published allegations of fraud in emails and on Facebook, sought to divert a payment to the company to himself, and tried to access the offices of the company. Cs sought an interim injunction on the basis of draft pleadings alleging libel, malicious falsehood, misuse of confidential information, unlawful interference in a business, trespass and harassment. D intimated in his witness statement an intention to defend the libel claim under s.2 Defamation Act 2013.

Issue

(1) To what extent did s.12 Human Rights Act 1998 and/or the rule in Bonnard v Perryman apply to each cause of action?

(2) Should the interim injunction be granted in each/any cause of action?

Held

(1) All causes of action except trespass engaged s.12 Human Rights Act 1998. The defamation and malicious falsehood claims engaged Bonnard v Perryman, and had it been necessary – to avoid its circumvention – the rule would have applied to the other causes of action affecting publication as well.

(2) No – the rule in Bonnard v Perryman applied given D’s witness statement that he would seek to prove his allegations to be true. The outcome of the misuse of confidential information and unlawful interference claims would likely follow the truth or falsity of the inpugned statements. There was insufficient threat of any prospective trespass to grant and injunction. None of the behaviour to date was of sufficient seriousness to surpass the high threshold for harassment.

Comment

A somewhat rare case of the rule in Bonnard v Perryman being deployed to defeat an interim injunction, and its intersection with non-defamation causes of action under the ‘nub’ rule.