The function of the court is not to provide a playing field for disputes, the presiding judge of the High Court Media and Communication list has warned the claimant in a high-profile libel action. 

Mohamed Amersi, a businessman who has donated more than £500,000 to the Conservative party, is suing Charlotte Leslie, a Tory former MP and current director of the Conservative Middle East Council, for defamation claiming that documents containing defamatory allegations about him were shared with and forwarded to influential individuals causing reputational harm.

A day-long hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday was bought by Amersi to amend the particulars of claim and, in accordance with a previous court order, to set out the particulars of the alleged ‘serious harm’ to his reputation by each of the publications complained of.

Mr Justice Nicklin

Mr Justice Nicklin

Source: Avalon

Mr Justice Nicklin told William McCormick KC, counsel for Amersi, that if ‘vindication’ was sought, it would have been easier for Amersi to sue other individuals because ‘it was clear’ what they had published.

The judge added that the courts were not for ‘providing a playing field’ for disputes without investigating a case's merits and their job was not ‘simply refereeing the dispute'.

He said: ‘Even if it were arguable prospects of success…the context of the dispute, the likely reasonable benefit of upside to resolution, the likely costs of litigation, the likely resource drain on defendant and the court, all seem to be factors. I have to look at all the underlying objectives.’

Nicklin added: ‘The court must not detach itself from reality in the sense to enable someone to spend an absolute fortune to litigate allegations that are less serious as allegations not being sued on.’

David Price KC, for Leslie, told the hearing that the amendments should be dismissed. He said the hearing aimed 'to bring this claim down to [be] manageable to relieve the dispute...instead we get 64 notices of harm added and no attempt at all to support publication.'

Amersi began his claim against Leslie in June 2021. At the time, he alleged Leslie's 'highly defamatory' memos breached data protection law. He dropped the case before that trial began, and told the Financial Times he would 'seek vindication' through libel proceedings.

Judgment was reserved.