May 16, 2008
Italian magazine wins in High Court
Judge categorises claim as forum-shopping abuse
Libel claims brought against L’Espresso, an Italian magazine, were dismissed today on various grounds following a 3 day trial in the High Court.
Two companies from the Atlantis World gaming group brought claims in relation to some 200 copies of the magazine and 21 website subscriptions within the jurisdiction. The first Claimant, a company based in the Netherlands Antilles, was involved in the collection of taxes due on video gaming slot machines throughout Italy. The second Claimant was an English company to which the Italian licence and its associated business were in the process of being transferred. The claimants alleged the L’Espresso article meant that the Claimants were controlled by the mafia, or there were reasonable grounds to suspect mafia control and that they were not suitable licensees.
A substantial special damages claim was “ostensibly abandoned” three weeks before trial, but the claimants argued that the article had made the raising of finance in the City of London impossible. The magazine argued that the article did not refer to the English company, neither company had a reputation within this jurisdiction or could prove its case on damages as well as on Jameel-style abuse grounds.
The Judge, Sir Charles Gray, found that the words did not refer to the English domiciled company, and that the foreign company, which was referred to in the article had no reputation within England and Wales. The Judge also made clear that he would have dismissed the claims as an abuse of process both on “forum shopping” grounds and in the light of the hopeless special damages claim.