The trial of the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy case against Associated Newspapers Limited has been adjourned by the High Court until October or November 2021 for confidential reasons.

The Duchess is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) for misuse of private information and breach of copyright after the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline published extracts from a letter she wrote to her father following her wedding in 2018. Recently ANL amended their defence to include reference to a new biography called ‘Finding Freedom’ that references the letter.

In the latest development, the Duchess issued an application to adjourn the January 2021 trial date, sought permission to appeal the court’s decision to allow ‘Finding Freedom’ to be included in ANL’s defence and applied for summary judgment of her claim against ANL. These matters were heard on 29 October 2020 in a private hearing, immediately followed by a public hearing.

Mr Justice Warby granted the application for adjournment of the trial based on a confidential ground,  but said he would not have allowed the trial date to be derailed by her application for permission to appeal the inclusion of ‘Finding Freedom’ or her application for summary judgment, which was brought very late in the day. The trial will now commence not before 15 October 2021.

Emily comments:

“This adjournment is significant and the confidential basis for it is a surprise. It is also a surprise that ANL are said not to have objected to the adjournment for this confidential reason.”

The judge refused the Duchess’ application for permission to appeal Master Kaye’s decision to allow ‘Finding Freedom’ to be included in ANL’s Defence. He disagreed that adding the book was a “new case” and said that it supported the case as already pleaded. He did however agree that ANL’s Defence is “imperfect”.

The judge allowed the Duchess’ applications for summary judgement and strike-out, which will be heard on 12 and 13 January 2021, during the window when the trial should have gone ahead.

Emily comments further:

“There remains the possibility that the judge will decide the Duchess’ claim against ANL without a full trial and the media circus that this would entail.

On balance, a good day for the Duchess, even if she cannot appeal the inclusion of ‘Finding Freedom’ in ANL’s Defence.”

Emily was quoted in an article in Tatler about the case, in advance of the hearing, here.

 

This article was co-written by Paralegal Palomi Kotecha

 


 

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