Schellenberg v British Broadcasting Corporation: QBD 2000

The claimant had settled defamation actions against the Guardian and the Sunday Times on disadvantageous terms, when it seemed likely that he was about to lose. He then pressed on with this almost identical action against the BBC.
Held: A court may strike out a defamation claim as abuse of process if there is evidence that no proper advantage will flow to the claimant for pursuing it. The court rejected the submission that he should not do so as this would deprive the claimant of his ‘constitutional right’ to trial by jury: ‘I see no reason why such cases require to be subjected to a different pre-trial regime. It is necessary to apply the overriding objective even in those categories of litigation and in particular to have regard to proportionality. Here there are tens of thousands of pounds of costs at stake and several weeks of court time. I must therefore have regard to the possible benefits that might accrue to the claimant as rendering such a significant expenditure potentially worthwhile.’ The overriding objective’s requirement for proportionality meant that he was bound to ask whether ‘the game is worth the candle’: ‘I am afraid I cannot accept that there is any realistic prospect of a trial yielding any tangible or legitimate advantage such as to outweigh the disadvantages for the parties in terms of expense, and the wider public in terms of court resources.’


Eady J


[2000] EMLR 296, [1999] EWHC 851 (QB)




CitedThoday v Thoday CA 1964
The court discussed the difference between issue estoppel, and action estoppel: ‘The particular type of estoppel relied upon by the husband is estoppel per rem judicatam. This is a generic term which in modern law includes two species. The first . .
CitedBradford and Bingley Building Society v Seddon and Hancock; Walsh and Rhodes (Trading As Hancocks (a Firm) CA 11-Mar-1999
There was an unsatisfied judgment on a claim by a defendant in an earlier action against a third party. In a subsequent action against the defendant the latter issued third party proceedings against the original and different third parties.
CitedArnold v National Westminster Bank Plc HL 1991
Tenants invited the court to construe the terms of a rent review provision in the sub-underlease under which they held premises. The provision had been construed in a sense adverse to them in earlier proceedings before Walton J, but they had been . .

Cited by:

CitedWallis v Valentine and Others CA 18-Jul-2002
The claimant in a defamation case appealed a decision to strike out his claim on the basis that it was an abuse of process, being intended to act as an harassment of the defendant, or to cause commercial embarrassment or undue cost.
Held: . .
CitedHowe and Co v Burden QBD 11-Feb-2004
Defence of consent – no strike out. The precise ambit of the defence of consent in a defamation case is best established at trial on the basis of the tribunal’s findings of fact. . .
CitedDow Jones and Co Inc v Jameel CA 3-Feb-2005
Presumption of Damage in Defamation is rebuttable
The defendant complained that the presumption in English law that the victim of a libel had suffered damage was incompatible with his right to a fair trial. They said the statements complained of were repetitions of statements made by US . .
ApprovedWallis v Valentine and others CA 5-Mar-2002
The court dismissed an appeal by the claimant against the striking out of his claim as an abuse of process. That was an extreme case where the judge had found that even if the claimant succeeded his damages would be very modest, perhaps nominal, and . .
CitedAdelson and Another v Associated Newspapers QBD 19-Feb-2008
Complaint was made that an article was defamatory of the owner of Manchester United. The defendant now argued that the game was not worth the candle. The costs vastly exceeded any possible recovery, and it had openly offered vindication, and that . .
CitedMardas v New York Times Company and Another QBD 17-Dec-2008
The claimant sought damages in defamation. The US publisher defendants denied that there had been any sufficient publication in the UK and that the court did not have jurisdiction. The claimant appealed the strike out of the claims.
Held: The . .
CitedKaschke v Gray and Another QBD 23-Jul-2010
The claimant sought damages in defamation saying that the defendants had published a web page which falsely associated her with a terrorist gang in the 1970s. The defendants now sought a strike out of her claim as an abuse saying that a similar . .
CitedCammish v Hughes QBD 20-Apr-2012
The defendant disputed whether the words complained of were defamatory, and whether the action was an abuse as being ‘not worth the candle’. The parties were in opposition over a proposed development of a biomass plant.
Held: The court found . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Defamation

Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.182077