Mahon, Kent v Dr Rahn, Biedermann, Haab-Biedermann, Rahn, and Bodmer (a Partnership) (No 2): CA 8 Jun 2000

The defendant’s lawyers wrote to a financial services regulatory body investigating the possible fraudulent conduct of the plaintiff’s stockbroking firm. The letter was passed to the Serious Fraud Office who later brought criminal proceedings against the plaintiffs and the letter was disclosed to them. After their acquittal they brought a claim for libel based on the defamatory matter in that letter.
Held: Complaints and statements supplied to the Securities Association in its function as regulator of financial services attracted absolute privilege in defamation proceedings. The new systems of disclosure had heightened tension between the need to secure information of a prosecution, and to give a fair trial. That could only be achieved with such privilege. The liability of a complainant for malicious prosecution did not extend beyond simple cases.


Brooke, Mantell, Laws LJJ


Times 14-Jun-2000, Gazette 29-Jun-2000, [2000] EWCA Civ 185, [2000] 1 WLR 2150, [2000] EMLR 873, [2000] Po LR 210, [2000] 2 All ER (Comm) 1, [2000] 4 All ER 41




England and Wales


See AlsoMahon and Another v Rahn and Others (1) CA 12-Jun-1997
Two company directors sued Swiss bankers who had responded to enquiries from the police in London. The charges which followed had been dismissed, and the directors sued in defamation, seeking to rely upon the materials sent to the police.
See AlsoMahon v Rahn QBD 19-Jun-1996
Directors of a London firm of stockbrokers brought libel proceedings against two Swiss bankers.
Held: The absolute immunity which is given to both witnesses and potential witnesses extends to all those taking part in a criminal investigation . .
See AlsoMahon v Rahn and others (No 2) CA 8-Nov-1999
Brooke LJ attempted to draw a distinction between simple cases. . .
CitedRoy v Prior HL 1970
The court considered an alleged tort of maliciously procuring an arrest. The plaintiff had been arrested under a bench warrant issued as a result of evidence given by the defendant. He sued the defendant for damages for malicious arrest.
Held: . .
CitedMartin v Watson HL 13-Jul-1995
The plaintiff had been falsely reported to the police by the defendant, a neighbour, for indecent exposure whilst standing on a ladder in his garden. He had been arrested and charged, but at a hearing before the Magistrates’ Court, the Crown . .

Cited by:

CitedGray v Avadis QBD 30-Jul-2003
The claimant had made complaints against the defendant solicitor to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. In answer the defendant made assertions about the claimant’s mental health, and she now sought to bring action iin defamation on those . .
CitedTaylor and Others v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL 29-Oct-1998
The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
CitedBuckley v Dalziel QBD 3-May-2007
There was a heated dispute between neighbours, culminating in some generous or perhaps over-generous pruning by the claimant of the defendant’s trees and shrubs on the boundaries. The defendants reported the matter to the police. Both Mr and Mrs . .
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 . .
CitedHunt v AB CA 22-Oct-2009
The claimant sought damages from a woman in malicious prosecution, saying that she had made a false allegation of rape against him. He had served two years in prison.
Held: The claim failed. A complainant is not a prosecutor, and is not liable . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Defamation, Financial Services

Updated: 31 May 2022; Ref: scu.147218