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Defamation claim defended

Ward Hadaway’s Commercial Litigation team recently successfully defended a defamation claim in the High Court brought against their client by an ex-employee.

The team won the case despite the ex-employee being represented by well-known libel and defamation specialist Carter Ruck.

What happened in the case?

The case – Theedom v Nourish Training Ltd (t/a CSP Recruitment) and Colin Sewell – centred on CSP Recruitment publishing an email to their clients following dismissal of an employee for gross misconduct to inform them of the dismissal.

Following a disciplinary procedure, Sam Theedom had been found to have been passing commercially sensitive information to his ex-colleague and girlfriend, both of whom were ex-employees of CSP, and continued to work within the recruitment industry.

The email published also stated that CSP were considering taking criminal action against Mr Theedom in light of his actions.

Mr Theedom brought a claim for defamation against CSP and Colin Sewell, director and author of the email, claiming that the contents of the email were false and that his reputation had suffered as a result of its publication.

What did the Court say?

A preliminary hearing was held in December 2015 in which it was found that the claim met the new Section 1 Defamation Act 2013 seriousness “threshold” and the case therefore proceeded to trial.

Following a 4 day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Theedom’s claim was dismissed. It was successfully argued that the contents of the publication were true and therefore not defamatory.

In his ruling, Judge Warby was satisfied that Mr Theedom had indeed breached his employment contract in passing information to his girlfriend and her friend.

In having passed this information, Judge Warby also found that there were reasonable grounds for CSP and Mr Sewell to suspect that Mr Theedom had committed a criminal offence, under Section 1 and 4 of the Fraud Act 2006, and the contents of the email sent to CSP’s client were therefore substantially true.

Mr Theedom was also ordered to pay CSP’s costs.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

The case demonstrates our Commercial Litigation team’s considerable expertise in defamation cases.

For more information on how we can help in such circumstances, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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