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Defamation and privacy: A cautionary tale

By Andy Lyalle, Senior Business Development Manager

(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 42 seconds)

The perception that many people have about defamation and privacy law reminded me of a comment made by the comedian Stewart Lee when describing David Cameron and Ed Miliband going head-to-head in the 2015 general election.

He said that they were “like two rats fighting over a courgette that has fallen into a urinal.  The main difference being that the David Cameron rat is wearing chinos, in an effort to win over the youth vote”.

This sentiment was rife during and after some notable high profile defamation and privacy law cases that have been heard over the last 12 months. It is for the rich and famous who are as bad as each other and not for those with real problems.  This is a brief cautionary tale to remind the reader that the claimant could be you or me and that fortunately we are actually in a position to do something about it.

It should be said that there are plenty of worthy cases brought by celebrities, politicians and businesses who have built up a reputation over many years and why should that be destroyed by a tweet or newspaper article?  Why should they put up with their ‘phone being hacked and it leading to family breakdowns?

Creating a level playing field and opening up access to justice are two key benefits of after the event insurance and particularly relevant in defamation and privacy cases.  A schoolteacher in Bristol, Christopher Jefferies, had his life plastered across the newspapers and was vilified by the press following the murder of a young lady.  He was released without charge and the correct man was convicted – but not before substantial reputational damage occurred.

Libel action was taken against eight publications and The Daily Mirror and The Sun were found guilty of being in contempt of court.  The legal guidance and support provided to Christopher Jefferies was crucial in the restoration of his reputation and ability to move on with his life.

Fortunately, after the event insurance premiums are recoverable in defamation and privacy cases so claimants and defendants can pursue a remedy without fear of disproportionate costs.  There is also the protection of freedom of speech – something that can otherwise be snuffed out by the rich and powerful (with lawyers on speed dial) if there is not an accessible route for potential defendants.

The writer Voltaire once said that he had been financially ruined twice.  “Once when I lost a lawsuit and once when I won one”.  If only he had contacted Temple Legal Protection…

Temple Legal Protection is the leading after the event insurer in defamation and privacy cases and also provides disbursement funding for these matters.  The awards and remedies being sought can be wildly disproportionate to the cost of pursuing the case as is the risk of the case being unsuccessful and defendant costs being payable.  For a high-net-worth client this is still a risk where insurance, hedging and funding make the prospect of litigation that much more palatable.

If you would like more information on ATE insurance and disbursement funding for media litigation, or you have any other legal expenses insurance query, please email  or call him on 01483 514428.

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Andy Lyalle

Senior Business Development Manager
Read articles by Andy Lyalle

Andy Lyalle

Andy has worn many hats in the legal services sector for nearly thirty years and is our Senior Business Development Manager. Based in our Bristol office but working nationwide, Andy enjoys meeting existing and potential clients ready to discuss our ATE insurance and disbursement funding products.

He will listen to your requirements and work with you and liaise with our team to ensure we add value to your business – develop opportunities, overcoming obstacles and steering you in the right direction are Andy’s stock-in-trade.

Working predominantly in the Commercial Dispute Resolution team, Andy is also pleased to talk to you about our BTE Employment Protection Schemes plus our personal injury and clinical negligence ATE Insurance and disbursement funding products.


Read articles by Andy Lyalle