£90,000 Libel Damages Awarded Against Tweeter Upheld by Court of Appeal
With what might be thought to be an exquisite sense of timing, given the events of recent weeks, the Court of Appeal has confirmed the £90,000 libel damages awarded by the High Court to Chris Cairns, the well-known New Zealand cricketer, in respect of a defamatory post on Twitter.
In January 2010, the defendant, Modi, published the following words on his personal Twitter page: "Chris Cairns removed from the IPL auction list due to his past record in match fixing.". When, later the same day, he was asked to do so by an online cricket magazine, Modi provided confirmation of the allegation in the following form: "We have removed him [Cairns] from the list for alleged allegations [sic] as we have zero tolerance of this kind of stuff. '. The magazine then published an article repeating the allegation. Cairns sued Modi for defamation in respect of both the tweet and the comment to the magazine.
Cairns won in the High Court. The Judge ruled that Modi had failed to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns had been involved in match fixing, or even that there had been strong grounds for suspecting that he had been. Cairns was entitled to damages, assessed on the basis that he had been a professional cricketer of good character and reputation. The starting point for such damages was £75,000. The Judge increased the damages recoverable by a factor of about 20% to reflect the sustained and aggressive way in which Modi had asserted a defence of justification - truth - and awarded Cairns total damages of £90,000. The Judge also granted Cairns an injunction against repetition of the libel.
This decision has now been upheld by the Court of Appeal. In particular, the Court approved the amount of damages awarded by the High Court. It observed that the fact that Modi held senior offices in Indian cricket at the time added great weight to the allegation and made the point that, although the tweet was originally published to only 65 people, the damage was exacerbated, firstly, by the fact that the recipients were a specialist, cricket-loving audience and, secondly, by the capacity of modern technology to make the story "go viral", filtering through to a wide audience very quickly.
To find out more, please contact Gareth Pobjoy or Tom Silverwood-Cope.
Filed: 03/04/2012 12:26:39