Lucas-Box v News Group Newspapers Ltd; Polly Peck (Holdings) Plc v Trelford, Viscount De L’Isle v Times Newspapers Ltd: CA 1986

Justification To be Clearly Set Out

The former practice which dictated that a defendant who wished to rely on a different meaning in support of a plea of justification or fair comment, did not have to set out in his defence the meaning on which he based his plea, was ill-founded and should not be followed.
A defendant who relies on a plea of justification must make his plea with sufficient clarity and particularity to enable the plaintiff to know what case he has to meet the meaning or meanings he seeks to justify. Whether a defence is permitted depends on the answer to three questions. First, is the defence meaning capable of arising from the publication? Second, does the defence meaning arise from a separate and distinct allegation in the publication, about which the plaintiff does not complain? Third, has the defendant provided proper particulars of fact that are capable of supporting the defence?

[1986] 1 WLR 147, [1986] 1 All ER 177
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedBranson v Snowden; Branson v Gtech UK Corporation (a Body Corporate) and Rendine CA 3-Jul-1997
The respective parties had been preparing competing bids for the National Lottery. One (Branson) alleged that the other had offerered a bribe. The other responded that the allegation was a lie, and each sued the other for defamation.
Held: The . .
CitedLowe v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 28-Feb-2006
The defendant sought to defend the claim for defamation by claiming fair comment. The claimant said that the relevant facts were not known to the defendant at the time of the publication.
Held: To claim facts in aid of a defence of fair . .
CitedCuristan v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 30-Apr-2008
The court considered the availability of qualified privilege for reporting of statements made in parliament and the actionable meaning of the article, which comprised in part those statements and in part other factual material representing the . .
CitedFlood v Times Newspapers Ltd and others QBD 5-Mar-2009
The claimant police officer complained of an alleged defamation in an article published by the defendant. The defendant wished to obtain information from the IPCC to show that they were investigating the matter as a credible issue. The court . .
CitedRath v Guardian News and Media Ltd and Another QBD 5-Mar-2008
The Claimant requested summary judgment on the fair comment defence to his defamation claim which was pleaded by the Defendant: ‘the Claimant’s conduct in relation to the false claims and criticisms has contributed in large part to a madness which . .
CitedChase v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd CA 3-Dec-2002
The defendant appealed against a striking out of part of its defence to the claim of defamation, pleading justification.
Held: The Human Rights Convention had not itself changed the conditions for a plea of justification based upon reasonable . .
CitedCuristan v Times Newspapers Ltd QBD 25-Apr-2007
Mr Curistan, a chartered accountant, prominent in Northern Ireland, contended that an article published by the defendant which was partly based on statements made in Parliament, was defamatory of him. . .
CitedChase v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 29-May-2002
A libel defence of justification which was based on ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ must focus on conduct of claimant that gives rise to suspicion. It was not permissible to rely upon hearsay. Defendant may not plead as ‘grounds’ material which . .
CitedHunt v Evening Standard Ltd QBD 18-Feb-2011
The defamation claimant sought that certain paragraphs of the defence should be struck out.
Held: Several paragraphs of the defence were struck out, and others left. . .
CitedLord Ashcroft KCMG v Foley and Others QBD 18-Feb-2011
The claimant sought to strike out defences of justification and fair comment saying that the pleadings were unsustainable for lack of clarity.
Held: The pleadings did contain obfuscation, and ‘if there is a viable defence of justification or . .
CitedControl Risks v New English Library CA 1989
In a defamation claim, there is a parallel to be drawn between what is necessary in respect of the defence of justification and what is necessary where the defence of fair comment is raised. Where justification is pleaded, a defendant is required to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.185959