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    Defamation – claimant’s particulars of claim struck out for lack of particularity – degree of precision required unaffected by Civil Procedure Rules 1998

    Best v Charter Medical of England Ltd and another: CA (Lords Justice Peter Gibson, Robert Walker and Keene): 26 October 2001

    The claimant, a consultant psychiatrist, brought a defamation action against the owner of the hospital at which he practised and its deputy medical director. Then judge decided to strike out re-amended particulars of claim as disclosing no reasonable cause of action on the grounds that certain allegations were not pleaded with sufficient particularity. The claimant appealed.

    Matthew Nicklin (instructed by Wiggin & Co, Cheltenham) for the claimant, Richard Parkes (instructed by Le Brasseur J Tickle) for the defendants.

    Held, dismissing the appeal, that the degree of precision required when a defamation claim was pleaded was recognised in British Data Management Plc v Boxer Commercial Removals Plc [1996] 3 All ER 707, and while exceptionally the court would not strike out a claim even where the words sued on could not be stated with reasonable precision, that exception was narrow and would arise rarely; and that the principles underlying defamation pleadings were unaffected by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, and the words ‘so far as possible’ in paragraph 2.4 of the practice direction under CPR part 53 succinctly encapsulated those earlier principles.

    “Law Society Gazette” 6th December 2001