Judge was correct to strike out malice plea
In a judgment handed down on Friday 9 July 2021, the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal concerned with the pleading of malice in relation to spent convictions. It is the first time that an appellate court has considered the pleading of malice in this context since 1978.
In the judgment given by Lord Justice Dingemans (with whom Popplewell and Carr LLJ agreed), it reiterated that an allegation of malice was an allegation of dishonesty and it must be shown by the claimant that the inclusion of spent convictions had been for an irrelevant, spiteful or improper motive. To pass the test at the pleading stage, there must be facts and matters pleaded in the Reply which were more probative of the existence of malice than its non-existence. Here, the court considered that there were no such facts and the Judge had been correct to strike out the pleaded case.
Adam Speker QC of 5RB for the Respondent, instructed by RPC LLP.