Could Britain finally be moving to shed its unflattering title of "libel capital of the world"?
We can only hope, of course, but it does appear to be edging that way, thanks to a recent High Court decision to toss a textbook "libel tourism" case. In the case, Out-law.com reports that Mr. Justice Tugendhat threw out the claims brought by Zimbabwe-oriented investment firm LonZim and two executives against Andrew Sprague, who criticized the company on the website of a South African magazine in May 2009. The plaintiffs alleged that Sprague's article false accused them of "cynically and greedily indulg[ing] in self-enrichment at the expense of, and contrary to the interests of, shareholders."
LonZim argued that "a significant proportion" of the South African magazine's traffic was from England and Wales, the High Court's jurisdiction. But in a departure from some of the more objectionable British libel decisions — like the case against Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, which founded jurisdiction on 23 copies sold in the UK on Amazon — Tugendhat held LonZim's feet to the fire and required it to prove that this was the case. And LonZim couldn't make the requisite showing:
Sprague presented evidence of traffic figures from the website for the two months following the date of first publication. The publishers had recorded a total of 65 visits for the contentious article. read more »