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August 30, 2011

Saudi businessman awarded £175,000 libel damages

Categories: Defamation, News

Tags: damages, Defamation, Libel

Award ensures maximum vindication


In a reserved judgment, HHJ Parkes QC sitting in the High Court has awarded Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi £175,000 damages for libel against Mr Elias Kifle, the publisher and editor in chief of an online news service, Ethiopian Review.

Sheikh Al-Amoudi is an international businessman, regularly listed as amongst the world’s richest individuals. He has invested some $4 billion in Ethiopia, his country of birth, and currently employs 62,000 people there. He is well known in business circles in London, and within the Ethiopian expatriate community in England, which numbers about 50,000. He sued over allegations of extraordinary cruelty towards one of his daughters, and that he is linked to the funding of international terrorism. He has previously sued over allegations to the latter effect, obtaining vindication by the reading of a statement in open court in 2006. He has also obtained a number of corrections in various newspapers over the years.

5RB’s case report can be read here, and a link to the judgment appears below. In this case, the Court found that it is difficult to imagine more serious allegations than those made by Mr Kifle. Mr Kifle had done nothing to engage with the process (judgment was obtained in default of acknowledgement of service), but had chosen simply to abuse the Sheikh and his lawyers once complaint had been made. On an assessment of damages, the Sheikh’s single most important consideration was vindication, towards which the contribution of a reasoned judgment would only be marginal. In the circumstances an award of £175,000 was the proper one to make. Mr Kifle was also ordered to pay the Sheikh’s legal costs on the indemnity basis.

5RB‘s Desmond Browne QC and Jonathan Barnes (instructed by DLA Piper UK LLP) represented Sheikh Al-Amoudi