It seems my earlier claim that time is running out was more accurate than even I thought.
The judge who presided over Rachel Riley’s application to strike out my defence against her libel claim – Mrs Justice Collins Rice – is minded to allow Riley’s costs order in full. This is for an amazing sum of more than £27,000.
Allow me to explain why this is amazing:
Her solicitor Mark Lewis’s costs have been allowed at City rates – which is “unreasonable and disproportionate” according to a long-standing principle in defamation cases.
This states that “City rates for City solicitors are recoverable where the City solicitor is undertaking City work, which is normally heavy commercial or corporate work. Defamation is not in that category, and, particularly given the reduction in damages awards for libel, is never likely to be. A City firm which undertakes work, which could be competently handled by a number of Central London solicitors, is acting unreasonably and disproportionately if it seeks to charge City rates”.
The Civil Justice Council expressly restated that rule in a report on solicitors’ hourly rates it published only last month.
Allowing Lewis to charge £500 per hour – which is what the judge seems minded to do – is a significant departure from the recommendation and it seems there is no extraordinary circumstance that justifies it.
Furthermore, despite the costs order not having been handed down yet, and the fact that such orders are usually payable within 14 days, Riley’s solicitor intends to enforce it within eight days – by February 9, which happens to be the day before the deadline for me to appeal against the strike-out ruling. Coincidence?
I’m told I have reasonably good prospects of resisting the costs enforcement. And I am considering the unusual step of appealing against the costs order.
But doesn’t this strike you as extremely cruel and unusual treatment, prompted by Riley’s people?
It seems to me that Riley’s legal team have tried to arrange matters so that I have to pay far more than a “reasonable” amount in costs – before I can lodge my appeal against the judgment that means I have to pay any costs at all – in order (yet again) to price me out of justice.
What a nasty, underhanded ploy. One might even consider it to be psychological warfare.
I will do what I can to fight this. If you are as disgusted by this as I am – as any right-thinking person should be – then please help in the way we have established:
Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.
Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.
Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.
On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.
If this is the way Riley’s employees behave, what does it say about the character of the person who has hired them?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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