The claimants had issued defamation proceedings. The defendant said they were out of time, having begun the action more than one year after the alleged publication, but accepted that they had not been prejudiced in their defence. The court refused to extend the period. The lack of prejudice to the defendant was not in itself a good reason for extending the limitation period, and no sufficient reason for the delay was given. The purpose of defamation actions is to restore the claimant’s reputation expeditiously. The importance he attached to that was measured in part by his readiness to comply with rules. The Act explicitly required the court to consider any reasons for delay. The discretion afforded by s.32A is ‘largely unfettered’. It requires the court to balance any prejudice to the claimant on the one hand and the defendant on the other in allowing the action to proceed or otherwise. All the circumstances of the case must be taken into account in assessing the justice of the matter, with particular reference to the length of, and reasons for, the delay and the extent to which the passage of time since the expiration of the limitation period has had an impact on the availability or cogency of relevant evidence. It had a discretion, but no reason to exercise it in favour of these claimants.
Brooke LJ said that: ‘whilst it would be wrong to read into section 32A, words that are not there, the strong policy considerations underlying modern defamation practice which are now powerfully underlined by the terms of the new Pre-action Protocol for Defamation, tend to influence an interpretation of section 32A which entitles the court to take into account all the considerations set out in this judgment when it has regard to all the circumstances of the case.’
Lord Justice Brooke, Lady Justice Hale
Defamation Act 1996 5(2), Limitation Act 1980 4A 32A(1)
England and Wales
See Also – Steedman and others v British Broadcasting Corporation CA 19-Jun-2001
Cited – Hartley v Birmingham City District Council CA 1992
The writ was issued one day late; there had been early notification of the claim; and the defendant’s ability to defend the case was unaffected. The plaintiff asked the court to exercide its discretion to allow the claim t proceed.
Held: The . .
Cited – Buckley 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 . .
Cited – Adelson and Another v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 19-Dec-2007
Applications were launched with in defamation proceedings to seek to recover damages for parties who had not previously been part of the proceedings.
Held: The amendments were refused. The new claimants were now out of time, and it was clear . .
Cited – Kamar v Nightingale and Another QBD 14-Dec-2007
The claimant sought damages from his barrister saying that he should have introduced evidence of his good character during the trial. The defendant appealed against the order permitting extension of the limitation period.
Held: The court had . .
Cited – Brady v Norman QBD 26-May-2010
The claimant appealed against refusal of the Master to extend the 12 month limitation period in his proposed defamation claim. The allegations related to a dispute at an Aslef barbecue, and later of forgery. The claimant was a former General . .
Cited – Brady v Norman CA 9-Feb-2011
The claimant sought to have disapplied the limitation period in his defamation claim. The claimant said that in the case of Cain, the Steedman case had not been cited, and that the decisions were incompatible, and that Cain was to be prefered.
Cited – S v Suren and Another QBD 10-Sep-2004
Cited – Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd and Others QBD 29-Jun-2015
Orders allowing extension of time for service of the Particulars of Claim. . .
Cited – Bewry v Reed Elseveir (UK) Ltd and Another QBD 10-Oct-2013
The claimant had begin proceedings against the defendant legal publishers, saying that their summary of a cash had brought was defamatory. He now sought leave to extend the limitation period for his claim, and the defendants argued that, given the . .
Cited – Reed Elsevier Uk Ltd (T/A Lexisnexis) and Another v Bewry CA 30-Oct-2014
Appeal from a decision granting the claimant’s application made pursuant to section 32A of the Limitation Act 1980 to disapply the limitation period in his proceedings for libel and dismissing the defendants’ application to strike out the claimant’s . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 07 January 2021; Ref: scu.166633