- Absence of sufficient harm or damage causes defamation and malicious falsehood claims to fail (George v Cannell)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What was the factual background to the dispute?
- What issues were before the court?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
TMT analysis: The court held that the claimant, Fiona George was the subject of false allegations of fact made maliciously by her former boss, Lynn Cannell, to two third parties. However, despite this, her claims were dismissed because they were found not to be serious enough. In particular, the libel and slander claims failed on the basis that neither publication found to have been made had caused or were likely to cause serious harm to Ms George’s reputation within section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013 (DA 2013). The malicious falsehood claim failed on a similar basis; the court did not consider that Ms George had suffered the necessary special damage (or damage within section 3(1) of the Defamation Act 1952 (DA 1952)) to found the claim. The judgment includes a number of useful findings for practitioners to consider, including interesting commentary in relation to the scope of the ‘serious harm’ test in defamation claims, the evidence that formed the basis of a rare finding of malice made against a publishee and important clarification as to the harm required to found a claim in misuse of private information. Written by Nick Grant, senior associate at Payne Hicks Beach LLP.
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