McCormack refused permission to appeal PTR decision

The (late) application was today refused by Warby LJ without a hearing.

D had sought permission to appeal against a PTR decision of Julian Knowles J in Wright v McCormack, in which the Judge (among other things):

  • Struck out/ refused permission to re-amend an innuendo meaning which was as defamatory, if not more defamatory, than C’s meaning, as it constituted an abuse of process;
  • Struck out/ refused permission to re-amend a serious harm plea which relied upon third-party publications as evidence of serious harm, as it was contrary to ‘the rule in Dingle’; and
  • Refused permission to re-amend a mitigation of damages plea to rely upon third-party material, which was impermissible in the absence of ‘Burstein facts’ and also contrary to ‘the rule in Dingle’.

As the application for permission was filed weeks out of time, Warby LJ first considered D’s application for relief from sanction/ an extension of time. This was refused on the basis that it both amounted to a serious and significant breach (with no good reason), and that it would be unjust to grant the relief sought.

However, in any event, Warby LJ would have refused permission as none of the four grounds of appeal had real prospects of success and there were no other compelling reasons. Indeed, on the contrary, there were compelling reasons to refuse an appeal even if the grounds were meritorious (including that permission would cause a fourth trial date to be lost in an already protracted defamation case).

The case will now proceed to trial.


5RB’s Adam Wolanski QC, Greg Callus and Lily Walker-Parr for the Claimant/Respondent, instructed by ONTIER LLP.

5RB’s case report on the PTR decision of Julian Knowles J (with link to judgment), here.

The order of Warby LJ refusing permission, with reasons, here.