Lords ponder Wall Street case

By Roger Pearson

A complex legal battle – involving the Wall Street Journal trying to
block libel proceedings brought against it in the UK by Mohammed Jameel
and his company, the Abdul Latif Jameel Co Ltd – has moved to the House
of Lords.

In February the Appeal Court struck out an action by Yousef Jameel,
the brother of Mohammed Jameel, on the basis that, even if it was
finally successful, damages would be minimal and would be out of all
proportion to the costs that would be run up and the time the case
would take.

This was because only five people in the UK had read the story in question, which was run on the Wall Street Journal website.

Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, in striking the claim out, said
that in the event of it being allowed to go ahead: “The game will not
merely have been worth the candle, it will not have been worth the

However, in a separate judgment the Appeal Court rejected
a challenge by the Wall Street Journal Europe to an earlier High Court
dismissal of the “qualified privilege” defence it had sought to raise
in respect of the claims against it by Mohammed Jameel and his company,
paving the way for that action to continue.

Now three law lords,
headed by Lord Bingham, the country’s senior law lord, have given the
Wall Street Journal permission to challenge that decision.

The case is expected to be heard later this year, probably in the autumn.

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