Hasselblad (GB) Ltd v Orbison: CA 1985

In the course of proceedings brought by the European Commission against Hasselblad, Mr Orbison wrote a letter to the Commission upon which the appellant then sued for damages for libel. The court considered the dangers of national and European courts separately examining evidence in cases where each had some jurisdiction.
Held: Sir John Donaldson MR said: ‘The first question which arises is whether this letter is to be regarded as sufficiently closely connected to the process of giving evidence for it to be necessary to extend absolute privilege to it, assuming always that absolute privilege would attach to evidence to the like effect given to the Commission.’ and as to jurisdiction ‘it cannot be right that the national courts and Community institutions shall both independently weigh the force of particular evidence with the possibility of inconsistent results.’ The privilege of immunity given to a court was a privilege that should not be extended.
Sir John Donaldson MR continued (obiter): ‘Mr Burton [counsel for the appellant] takes the point that an informer in England has only the benefit of qualified privilege: Shufflebottom v Allday (1857) 5 W.R. 315. Bringing the matter more up to date and relating it to an inquiry similar to that undertaken by the Commission, Mr Burton submits, rightly, that if Mr Orbison’s letter had been addressed to the Director General of the Fair Trading, he could have been sued for libel and would have had to be content with the defence of qualified privilege.’
Sir John Donaldson MR
[1985] 1 QB 475
England and Wales
CitedShufflebottom v Allday 1857
The defendant had been robbed. He described the robber to a constable who arrested the plaintiff. Seeing him in custody, the defendant said: ‘That is the man’. After having been remanded in custody for two days, the plaintiff was then acquitted . .

Cited by:
CitedCrehan v Inntrepreneur Pub Company (CPC) CA 21-May-2004
The claimant had taken two leases, but had been made subject to beer ties with the defendant. He claimed damages for the losses, saying he had been forced to pay higher prices than those allowed to non-tied houses, and that the agreement was . .
CitedHeath v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis CA 20-Jul-2004
The female civilian officer alleged sex discrimination against her by a police officer. Her complaint was heard at an internal disciplinary. She alleged sexual harrassment, and was further humiliated by the all male board’s treatment of her . .
CitedWestcott v Westcott CA 15-Jul-2008
The defendant was the claimant’s daughter in law. In the course of a bitter divorce she made allegations to the police which were investigated but did not lead to a prosecution. The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for defamation on the . .
CitedThornton v Telegraph Media Group Ltd QBD 16-Jun-2010
The claimant said that a review of her book was defamatory and a malicious falsehood. The defendant now sought summary judgment or a ruling as to the meaning of the words complained of.
Held: The application for summary judgment succeeded. The . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 26 December 2020; Ref: scu.197721