Warren v The Random House Group Ltd: CA 16 Jul 2008

An offer of amends by the defendant had been accepted by the claimant. The defendant then sought to set aside the agreement and to resist the claim on its merits in reliance on a defence of justification. The parties disputed whether such an offer and its acceptance has the status of a binding and legally enforceable contract. At first instance it was held that it did, and that no grounds had been shown for setting it aside.
Held: The Court doubted that such an agreement amounts to a binding and legally enforceable contract but endorsed the claimant’s concession that ‘whether or not a contract properly so called comes into operation, the court would permit either party to resile from it on one of the traditional contractual grounds’
The court then considered whether the court might permit a party to resile from an agreement which could not be challenged on such traditional grounds and, if so, under what circumstances, finding that the court could allow this, but that it would rarely be appropriate to exercise that discretion so as to relieve a party of the consequences of a bargain freely entered into. The Court should ask itself: ‘whether there are here on the facts special circumstances which lead to the conclusion that the defendant should be permitted to resile from the statutory scheme which flows from the claimant’s acceptance of its offer of amends.’ The conditions of the use of that discretion are akin to those which apply when a party seeks to be released from an undertaking voluntarily given in the course of litigation, including the context, and whether the offer was made independently of the agreement of the claimant, or as part of a collateral bargain.
Sir Anthony Clarke MR
[2008] EWCA Civ 834, [2009] QB 600
England and Wales
See AlsoWarren v The Random House Group Ltd (No. 1) QBD 5-Dec-2007
The defendant applied to amend its defence to the defamation claim. The effect of the proposed amendment had been to withdraw the defence based on its offer of amends and to substitute for it a plea of justification in respect of one of three . .
CitedDi Placito v Slater and others CA 19-Dec-2003
The parties had earlier compromised their dispute, with the claimant undertaking not to lodge any further claim unless he did so within a certain time. They now sought to commence action.
Held: When considering whether to discharge such an . .
Appeal fromWarren v The Random House Group Ltd QBD 20-Dec-2007
The parties had settled a defamation action by means of an offer of amends. The defendant changed his mind about the offer, and the court now considered whether the accepted offer of amends was binding as a contract.
Held: It was a contract, . .

Cited by:
CitedBarron and Others v Collins MEP QBD 22-Dec-2016
The defendant MEP had had adjourned the claim against her for defamation, claiming that her actions has been as an MEP and therefore exempt from proceedings. The chair of the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee had received and rejected her . .

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Updated: 09 February 2021; Ref: scu.270838