Strike Out Applications in Defamation Claims Can Quickly Bring an End to Troublesome Cases

Allegations of defamation can be very difficult to prove. Matters turn largely on evidential issues, and often require the Court to determine matters of fact, which can only be done at trial. However, in certain cases, an uber-aggressive application can be made to strike the case out, often on procedural grounds, as prescribed under the Civil Procedure Rules. If a case cannot show the Court bonafide grounds of success because it has been pleaded badly or defectively, then it is fair game to a strike out application. This is exactly what happened in the case of Reynolds v Bovey.

Peter Reynolds, the leader of CLEAR – Cannabis Law Reform (formerly known as the Legalise Cannabis Alliance) a political party whose objectives include the ending of the prohibition of cannabis, sought to take action in libel defamation against one of CLEAR’s previous supporters, Christopher Bovey.

The libel claim brought by Mr Reynolds claimed that images and words that had been posted online were defamatory and therefore damaging to  his reputation. We, with the assistance of Ms. Yuli Takatsuki, Counsel of 5RB, were successful in having the claim struck out at the High Court, Queens Bench Division, by Master Roger Eastman.

Master Eastman, upon striking the case out, stated that we had made it clear by means of the Defence to the claim and subsequent correspondence to Mr Reynolds that his claim was plainly defective in law, given the manner in which it had been pleaded. In particular issues regarding publication were brought to the Court’s attention by Pinder Reaux, with Mr Reynolds making unsustainable claims that millions of users of Facebook, You Tube and the internet had seen the alleged defamatory material. Without the proper pleading of publication, there could not be a viable cause of action – an argument which Master Eastman agreed with.

In making his judgment Master Eastman stated that “….pleading in defamation cases is a minefield for the amateur, and he [Mr Reynolds] has not got through the minefield.” Mr Reynolds’ claim was struck out and he was ordered to pay Mr Bovey’s costs of the action, which are currently being pursued. Mr Reynolds has made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal Master Eastman’s judgment.

The above is just one example of how a clear and efficient strategy can quickly dispense with libel claims, which seem complex and highly evidential on the surface, but are in fact legally flawed in substance, thereby saving the client money, stress and time. The ability of a specialist lawyer, such as Pinder Reaux, to spot such flaws, is infinitely priceless for a client.

John Spyrou