July 16, 2008
Warren wins offer of amends appeal
Court of Appeal rejects Random House’s justification bid in Ricky Hatton libel case
Publisher Random House has lost its attempt to withdraw an offer of amends made to Frank Warren in favour of a justification defence in its battle with the boxing promoter over Ricky Hatton’s autobiography.
Mr Warren sued Random House over three allegations in the boxer’s book which was published in September 2006. The publisher relied on a justification defence in relation to two of the allegations but made an offer of amends in relation to the third, which concerned a fight between Hatton and Vince Phillips. Mr Warren had accepted the offer and a statement in open court was read in which the publisher accepted that the relevant allegation was false and apologised for it.
A month after the statement in open court, Random House made an unprecedented application to amend its Defence in order to withdraw the offer of amends and to plead justification, relying on material it had obtained after the offer of amends had been made. Mr Justice Gray rejected the application and Random House appealed.
Upholding the Judge’s ruling, the Court of Appeal today held that whilst in special circumstances an accepted offer of amends could be resiled from, no such circumstances existed in this case. Rejecting Random House’s argument that forcing it to pay compensation to Mr Warren under the offer of amends without allowing it to rely upon the new material, would be a breach of its Article 6 and Article 10 rights, the Court held that the publisher had waived its Convention rights by making the offer of amends.
In addition the Court of Appeal also rejected the publisher’s appeals against further orders made by Gray J and Eady J limiting the scope of the justification defence and matters to be relied upon in mitigation of damages, but allowed an appeal relating to disclosure of a broadcasting contract for one of the fights relevant in the case.
Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.
5RB’s Adrienne Page QC and William Bennett (instructed by Carter-Ruck) appeared for the Claimant, while Desmond Browne QC and Matthew Nicklin (instructed by Simons Muirhead & Burton) appeared for the Defendant.