On appeal from: [2019] EWCA Civ 852

Serafin had sued Malkiewicz & Ors  for libel in respect of an article they had published about him in Nowy Czas, a newspaper addressing issues of interest to the Polish community in the UK. The Court of Appeal found that the conduct of the trial by Mr Justice Jay in the High Court had been unfair towards the claimant and allowed the claimant’s appeal. The defendants appealed against that finding to the Supreme Court. They also challenged the Court of Appeal’s analysis of the effect of the Defamation Act 2013, S4, which sets out “the public interest defence” to a defamation claim.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. However, in place of the Court of Appeal’s order that only the assessment of damages be remitted, the Court ordered the case be remitted for a full retrial. The Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the judge did not allow the claim to be properly presented; that therefore he could not fairly appraise it; and that the trial was unfair. The logical consequence of a conclusion that a trial was unfair is an order for a complete retrial. The new judge should moreover determine whether the public interest defence is available to the defendants without reference to the Court of Appeal’s reasoning on section 4.

For judgment, please download: [2020] UKSC 23

For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website 17 March morning and afternoon session and 18 March morning session.

To watch the judgment summary, please visit: Supreme Court website, 3 June 2020