Safeway Stores Plc v Albert Tate: CA 18 Dec 2000

The respondent, a neighbour of the claimant, had fallen into dispute with the claimant, and issued a leaflet and signs alleging fraud. The claimants obtained an injunction, and in the absence of a substantive defence, judgement. He claimed that the judgement had deprived him of his right to a jury trial because the case involved an allegation of fraud.
Held: The rule was ultra vires section 1(3) of the Act. It was not for a judge to pre-empt a possibly perverse jury finding. The right is a fundamental, not a procedural right, and was outside the power of the Rules Committee. The right is guaranteed by statute, and cannot be taken away by a delegated legislation. The rule which allowed summary judgment to be entered in all cases was a denial of that right. However the rule, as amended, allowed an exception in cases of some compelling reason. The right to jury trial in defamation case was such a compelling reason. The Act provided exceptions to the otherwise absolute right to elect for jury trial, and the list of exceptions in the act was complete and exclusive. There was no power in delegated legislation to repeal such a fundamental right given by primary legislation.


Lord Justice Otton, Lord Justice Mantell And Sir Ronald Waterhouse


Times 26-Jan-2001, Gazette 22-Feb-2001, [2000] EWCA Civ 335




Civil Procedure Rules Part 24.2(b), Defamation Act 1981, Supreme Court Act 1981 1(3) 69


England and Wales


CitedBroome v Agar CA 1928
The court discussed the differing responsibilities of the judge and jury in defamation cases: ‘It is not, however, open to the judge to say that the words do bear a defamatory meaning, that is for the jury, but the jury must have evidence upon which . .
CitedGoldsmith v Pressdram Ltd CA 1988
The court considered whether to order a defamation trial to be before a judge alone, or with a jury.
Held: The word ‘examination’ has a wide connotation, is not limited to the documents which contain the actual evidence in the case and . .

Cited by:

CitedAlexander v Arts Council of Wales CA 9-Apr-2001
In a defamation action, where the judge considered that, taken at their highest, the allegations made by the claimant would be insufficient to establish the claim, he could grant summary judgment for the defence. If the judge considered that a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Constitutional, Civil Procedure Rules

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.135636