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MGN awarded costs of landmark libel claim

At a hearing on 26 September Mr Justice Bean rejected arguments that our client, MGN, should only recover half of its costs in the unsuccessful libel claim brought by Midland Heart Limited and its chief executive, Ruth Cooke against the Sunday Mirror, referred to previously.

The Judge awarded MGN the lion’s share of the costs of the claim, reasoning that the Claimants’ case had clearly failed. However, he awarded the Claimants their costs up to and including 2 February (the date of the apology published by MGN), saying it was entirely reasonable in the present case for the Claimants to consult lawyers and for them to write as they did and to expect prompt publication and payment of costs as were reasonably incurredĀ. MGN was granted its costs from the date of the apology onwards.

Bean J granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal to the Claimants, on the basis that this was the first case to come to a hearing on the proper interpretation of the 2013 Act and that libel practitioners would appreciate the guidance of the Court of Appeal. The Judge did not, however, give a view as to the prospects of success of the appeal.

At the hearing, David Price QC also sought clarification as to whether the Judge had found the words complained of to be defamatory (see paragraph 19 of the judgment). Bean J explained that whether the words were defamatory under common law was irrelevant as the article was published after 1 January 2014. He stated that since the words were not defamatory under statute, he did not feel it necessary to make a finding.

Read the Defendants’ skeleton argument here.