Laying down the libel law

There was a time, not too long ago, that London’s litigators were proud to be working in a city widely regarded as the libel capital of the world.

There was a time, not too long ago, that London’s litigators were proud to be working in a city widely regarded as the libel capital of the world.

Rewind three years and it felt like a string of philandering stars, many of them from the world of sport, were clamouring to get court injunctions preventing lurid details of their love lives from being published in the tabloids. Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs, Chelsea footballer John Terry, and golf star Tiger Woods were among those at the eye of the storm.

A year later and the spectre of tabloid phone hacking created a new storm for London’s libel lawyers to get stuck into. Case after case has since been settled by News Group Newspapers. Just last week Katie Price added her name to the list of resolved claims.

All this created the basis of the new Defamation Act, which is due to come into force in December. The courts, however, have shown their own mettle this week in dealing with London’s libel tourists, with Mr Justice Simon throwing out a defamation claim by a former Russian policeman Pavel Karpov against a UK fund manager.

The case had no business being in the London court, the judge said. The ruling has been hailed as the death knell for libel tourism. Until the next wealthy Russian comes along that is.

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