Taken From: http://www.legalrss.uk/

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Political Party Held Up Defamation Case Settlement Until After Election Day

It is sometimes only right that those who are not parties to litigation – but who stand behind the scenes and provide financial support to one side or the other – have to shoulder at least a proportion of the legal costs incurred. In one such case, a political party that deliberately held up the settlement of a High Court defamation case until after a general election was hit hard in the pocket.

A politician who was a member of the party had been sued for defamation by three MPs following a public speech in which she made a number of serious allegations against them. Following lengthy proceedings, she was ordered to pay each of them £54,000 in damages, plus their six-figure legal costs.

During the proceedings, the party had – in good faith and with a view to achieving a settlement – provided her with £31,000 in litigation funding. The Court accepted that the party had felt some moral responsibility towards her and had sought to play a supportive role. However, as the general election approached, the party changed its position and took a deliberate, informed and calculated decision, for reasons of party political advantage, to ensure that the case was not settled before polling day.

The Court found that, but for the party’s decision, a fairly swift settlement of the proceedings would very probably have been achieved. It was also likely that an expensive hearing at which the MPs’ damages were assessed would not have been necessary. In those circumstances, the Court ordered the party to pay that part of the MPs’ legal costs that would otherwise have been avoided.

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