Goldsmith v Pressdram Ltd: CA 1988

The court considered whether to order a defamation trial to be before a judge alone, or with a jury.
Held: The word ‘examination’ has a wide connotation, is not limited to the documents which contain the actual evidence in the case and includes, for example, documents which are likely to be introduced in cross-examination.
Slade LJ said: ‘Correspondingly, I infer that the legislature, in using the particular word ‘conveniently’ in the context of the sub-section, was directing its attention to the efficient administration of justice, rather more than the probable difficulty or otherwise of issues involved There may be many cases where numerous documents will be required to be looked at, but no substantial practical difficulties are likely to arise in their examination being made with a jury. On the other hand, cases may, I concede, arise where relatively few documents will require examination, but nevertheless long and minute examination of them is likely to be required, and, because of their particular nature, a satisfactory examination of them by a jury will present formidable practical difficulties’.
Kerr LJ said: ‘Conveniently’ means, as I see it, without substantial difficulty in comparison with carrying out the same process with a Judge alone. On the issues raised in this case the investigatory process of arriving at the ultimate answer would be a difficult task for any judge despite constant reference to documents, and far more difficult, and therefore inconvenient as a forensic process, when it has to be done in a way that is capable of being followed and understood by 12 jurors’.
Nourse LJ pointed out that the right to trial of a defamation action by a jury is an important constitutional right: ‘whether someone’s reputation has or has not been falsely discredited ought to be tried by other ordinary men and women and, as Lord Camden said, it is the jury who are the people of England.’

Slade LJ, Kerr LJ, Nourse LJ
[1988] 1 WLR 64
Supreme Court Act 1961 69
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedSafeway Stores Plc v Albert Tate CA 18-Dec-2000
The respondent, a neighbour of the claimant, had fallen into dispute with the claimant, and issued a leaflet and signs alleging fraud. The claimants obtained an injunction, and in the absence of a substantive defence, judgement. He claimed that the . .
CitedRight Hon Aitken MP and Preston; Pallister and Guardian Newspapers Ltd CA 15-May-1997
The defendants appealed against an order that a defamation trial should proced before a judge alone.
Held: ‘Where the parties, or one of them, is a public figure, or there are matters of national interest in question, this would suggest the . .
CitedField v Local Sunday Newspapers Limited 10-Dec-2001
The court considered whether to order jury trial of a defamation action.
Held: The triggers of ‘prolonged examination’ and ‘inconvenience’ are not two separate requirements and must be considered together, although it is convenient to take . .
CitedCollins Stewart Ltd and Another v The Financial Times Ltd QBD 20-Oct-2004
The claimants sought damages for defamation. The claimed that the article had caused very substantial losses (andpound;230 million) to them by affecting their market capitalisation value. The defendant sought to strike out that part of the claim. . .
CitedFiddes v Channel Four Television Corporation and Others CA 29-Jun-2010
The claimants in a defamation case made an interlocutory appeal against an order for trial by judge alone. The parties had agreed for trial by jury, but the defendants made a late application for trial by judge alone.
Held: The claimant’s . .
CitedBeta Construction Ltd v Channel Four Television Co Ltd CA 1990
When considering the number of documents to be considered when deciding whether a defamation case should proceed before a judge or judge and jury, the court was entitled to look also at any specialised technical content of the documents and also . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.182778