Rothermere v Times Newspapers Ltd: CA 1973

The court considered whether to order a defamation trial to be heard by judge alone, rather than before a jury.
Held: The criterion that the trial requires a prolonged examination of documents is basic and must be strictly satisfied, and it is not enough merely to show that the trial will be long and complicated.
Lord Denning MR said: ‘Looking back on our history, I hold that, if a newspaper has criticised in its columns the great and the powerful on a matter of large public interest — and is then charged with libel — then its guilt or innocence should be tried with a jury, if the newspaper asks for it, even though it requires the prolonged examination of documents.’ and ‘the right given by our constitution to a Defendant who is charged with libel, either in criminal or civil proceedings. Every Defendant has a constitutional right to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury. This right is of the highest importance, especially when the Defendant has ventured to criticise the government of the day, or those who hold authority or power in the state’.


Lord Denning MR


[1973] 1 WLR 448


Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933

Cited by:

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 . .
CitedJoyce v Sengupta and Another CA 31-Jul-1992
The defendant published an article accusing the plaintiff of theft. Not having funds to launch a claim in libel, the plaintiff obtained legal aid to claim in malicious falsehood. She now appealed against a strike out of that claim.
Held: A . .
CitedCook v Telegraph Media Group Ltd QBD 29-Mar-2011
The claimant, an MP, complained in defamation of the defendant’s description of his rejected expenses claim regarding an assistant’s charitable donation. The paper pleaded a Reynolds defence. The claimant said that when published the defendant knew . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Litigation Practice, Constitutional

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.184760