Injunctive Relief In Defamation Claims

Ranger v Pycraft [2021] EWHC 502 (QB)

Case summary

The Claimant (Lance Dorian Ranger) was a practising solicitor and managing director of a company based in Switzerland. The Defendant (Charles Pycraft) proceeded to post allegations online stating the Claimant had committed fraud and described him as a “modern day grave robber”.

The Claimant threatened to bring a claim in defamation against the Defendant. To avoid litigation, the Defendant provided an undertaking to:

  1. Not publish any future defamatory statements;
  2. Immediately delete the defamatory publications and posts; and
  3. To pay the Claimant’s legal costs in the event of a breach.

In breach of the undertakings, the Defendant contacted an investigative journalist. He also failed to delete three of the tweets that contained defamatory comments.

What did the Court decide?

Justice Collins Rice found, on the facts, that there was probably a breach of the undertakings although ultimately the issue before her was not one of liability but rather whether a permanent injunction should be granted.

Rather interestingly, the Judge held that defamation doesn’t provide an absolute right to prevent allegations permanently. Instead, the Court must consider whether there is a “real and substantive risk of continuing or further publication in the future” when considering whether to grant a permanent injunction.

In this case, the Judge acknowledged that the Defendant had initially engaged in a campaign of allegations, but that the two above referred to breaches were more of an oversight on the Defendant’s part rather than a purposeful breach of the undertakings.

As such, the Judge did not feel that the risk of a future breach was sufficiently high enough to grant injunctive relief.

Ranger PycraftHow can Nelsons help?

Ruby Ashby is an Associate in our expert Dispute Resolution team.

If you have been affected by any of the points raised in this article or have any related queries, please contact Ruby or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.