Berezovsky v Michaels

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Berezovsky v Michaels
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Court House of Lords
Decided 11 May 2000
Citation(s) [2000] UKHL 25; [2000] 2 All ER 986; [2000] 1 WLR 1004
Case history
Prior action(s) Berezovsky v Forbes Inc (No. 1) [1999] E.M.L.R. 278
Subsequent action(s) Berezovsky v Forbes Inc (No. 2) [2001] E.M.L.R. 45
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Lord Steyn
Lord Nolan
Lord Hoffmann
Lord Hope of Craighead
Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough
Keywords
Libel, defamation, choice of forum

Berezovsky v Michaels [1] is an English libel decision in which the House of Lords allowed Boris Berezovsky and Nikolai Glushkov to sue Forbes for libel in UK courts, despite the allegedly libelous material relating to their activities in Russia.

The case was also reported as Berezovsky v Forbes Inc.

Facts[edit]

The 30 December 1996 edition of Forbes described the plaintiffs, Boris Berezovsky and Nikolai Glushkov, as "criminals on an outrageous scale." According to the judgement, the circulation of this issue was as follows:

Subscriptions Newsstands Total
United States & Canada 748,123 37,587 785,710
England & Wales 566 1,349 1,915
Russia 13 0 13

The parties also agreed that, given online availability, the issue would have had about 6,000 readers in the UK.

Despite these relative circulation numbers, the plaintiffs brought their action in the UK.

Proceedings[edit]

At first instance, Popplewell J. held that where a party was not subject to a jurisdiction, it was for the court to determine the appropriate forum, (citing Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd [1987] A.C. 460), found that the plaintiffs' connection with England were "tenuous" and stayed the proceedings. After the plaintiffs provided further evidence of their connection with England on appeal, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision, and held that per the Spilada test, where there was strong evidence of the plaintiffs connections with England, England was a suitable forum for the trial.

Judgment[edit]

The House of Lords upheld the Court of Appeal's decision by a 3-2 majority (Lord Hoffman and Lord Hope of Craighead dissenting), dismissing the appeals, and finding that on the additional evidence provided England was an appropriate forum and the trial of actions should proceed in England.

In his dissent, Lord Hoffman observed:

The plaintiffs are forum shoppers in the most literal sense, they have weighed up the advantages to them of the various jurisdictions that might be available and decided that England is the best place in which to vindicate their international reputations. They want English law, English judicial integrity and the international publicity which would attend success in an English libel action.

Significance[edit]

Scholars and commentators have suggested that the case made the UK more popular for libel tourism.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1], Berezovsky v Michaels, House of Lords, 10 May 2000