Qualified privilege claim upheld
(Ceylon) The ‘Ceylon Daily News’ had published extracts from a report of the Bribery Commission which was critical of Dr. Perera’s lack of frankness in his evidence. The Judicial Committee upheld a claim to qualified privilege. In the light of the origin and contents of the report and its relevance to the affairs of Ceylon, the due administration of the affairs of Ceylon required that the report should receive the widest publicity. Their Lordships preferred to relate their conclusions to the wider general principle which underlies the defence of privilege in all its aspects rather than to debate the question whether the case fell within some specific category.
Lord Uthwatt said: ‘Reports of judicial and parliamentary proceedings and, maybe, of some bodies which are neither judicial nor parliamentary in character, stand in a class apart by reason that the nature of their activities is treated as conclusively establishing that the public interest is forwarded by publication of reports of their proceedings. As regards reports of proceedings of other bodies, the status of those bodies taken alone is not conclusive and it is necessary to consider the subject-matter dealt with in the particular report with which the court is concerned. If it appears that it is to the public interest that a particular report should be published, privilege will attach.’
Lord Uthwatt, Sir Valentine Holmes KC
 AC 1
England and Wales
Cited – Webb v Times Publishing Co Ltd 1960
The Times newspaper published a report of the criminal trial in Switzerland of a British subject. When sued in defamation they sought to rely upon the defence of fair reporting of judicial proceedings.
Held: A blanket protection for reporting . .
Cited – Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd and others HL 28-Oct-1999
Fair Coment on Political Activities
The defendant newspaper had published articles wrongly accusing the claimant, the former Prime Minister of Ireland of duplicity. The paper now appealed, saying that it should have had available to it a defence of qualified privilege because of the . .
Cited – Blackshaw v Lord CA 1984
Claim to privilege must be precisely focused
The Daily Telegraph carried an article headed ‘Incompetence at ministry cost pounds 52 million’ recording that a number of senior civil servants had been reprimanded after investigation by the Public Accounts Committee. The plaintiff had been in . .
Cited – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Limited (No 2) CA 12-Mar-2001
The defendants appealed against a refusal to allow them to amend their pleadings. They wished to include allegations as to matters which were unknown to the journalist at the time of publication.
Held: It is necessary for the defendants to . .
Cited – Jameel v Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl HL 11-Oct-2006
The House was asked as to the capacity of a limited company to sue for damage to its reputation, where it had no trading activity within the jurisdiction, and as to the extent of the Reynolds defence. The defendants/appellants had published an . .
Cited – Tsikata v Newspaper Publishing Plc QBD 28-Oct-1994
Qualified privilege reporting statutory proceedings stays despite doubts on findings. Jonathan Sumption QC said: ‘Historically, qualified privilege meant a state of affairs which negatived legal malice and meant that the plaintiff had to prove . .
Cited – Seaga v Harper PC 30-Jan-2008
Public meeting gave no qualified privilege
(Jamaica) The appellant politician pleaded that his words about a senior policemen when spoken at a public meeting were protected from an action in slander by qualified privilege.
Held: The appeal failed. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 17 November 2021; Ref: scu.194510