Supreme Court allows Mueen-Uddin appeal

A unanimous Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s and High Court’s decision to strike out the libel claim as an abuse of process

The Supreme Court has today handed down its judgment in the abuse of process appeal in Mueen-Uddin v SSHD.

The libel claim concerned an allegation, contained in a Home Office report entitled “Challenging Hateful Extremism”, that Mr Mueen-Uddin (a British citizen) was a war criminal, claims that he has always denounced as false.

The Sir Andrew Nicol struck out the claim (which was upheld by a majority of the Court of Appeal) as an abuse of process, relying primarily on a conviction by the Bangladesh court (the “ICT”), Hunter abuse, and Jameel abuse. The ICT has been widely criticised for lacking fairness, independence and procedural safeguards.

The appeal considered the following issues:

  1. Whether a foreign criminal conviction which a claimant did not have a full opportunity to contest is a relevant factor in showing that English proceedings which require determination of the same issues as those before the foreign criminal court are an abuse of process.
  2. Whether prior press publications of defamatory allegations are admissible (and conclusive) evidence of bad reputation on an application to strike out the claim if such publications have taken place some months prior to the publication complained of and are uncontradicted by a successful claim for libel.
  3. Whether potential difficulties which the Respondent may have in proving the truth of the allegations which it had published about the conduct of the Appellant some 50 years ago are a relevant factor supporting a finding of abuse.
  4. Whether a combination of partial aspects of the Hunter and Jameel abuse jurisdictions, none of which necessarily amount to abuse on its own, can properly ground a finding of abuse of process.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal on all four grounds. The judgment also provides detailed guidance on the application of the Jameel abuse, Hunter abuse, and Dingle doctrines. A detailed examination of the judgment can be found in the 5RB Case Report here.

Jacob Dean and Lily Walker-Parr appeared for the Appellant, instructed by Adam Tudor of Carter-Ruck.