Barrister wins libel claim against The Times

Judith Thompson  07-07-2023

Barrister Dinah Rose KC recently brought a case for libel against the Times Newspaper, after they reported on her taking a case for the Cayman Island government with regards to same sex marriage. 

Rose took the case due to the ‘cab rank rule’ (where barristers are obliged to take the next case that comes along). She was representing the Cayman Island government in a case against the constitutionality of same sex marriage. She received criticism from Colours Caribbean and Oxford LGBT+ society. However, the ‘cab rank’ rule states that barristers must accept any work within an area in which they are competent to practice, which is at their regular court and at their usual costs.

Colours Caribbean reported that Rose should have used the ‘foreign work’ exception to refuse the case. This exception allows barristers to refuse cases which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the courts of England or Wales. However, the Bar Standards Board defended Rose, saying that her actions were correct.

The Times legal editor Jonathan Ames picked up the story during November 2022 and reported under the headline ‘Law chiefs’ rule against college head in gay row’. He said that the BSB had deemed her actions as ‘reckless’ and  that she ‘must apologise’. These statements were untrue and taken out of context which therefore crystallised her right to sue The Times for libel.

Soon after the release of the article, the BSB published a statement of defence saying that no further investigation was being conducted on the matter, leading to the Times deleting the article.

The case commenced in May 2023 with William Bennet KC acting as Rose’s counsel, saying that Rose had been ‘shocked’ and ‘distressed’ by the criticisms of her conduct. The judge found in Rose’s favour, and ordered that she was to receive ‘substantial damages and payment of her legal costs’.

Furthermore, on 16 May 2023, The Times published an apology to Dinah Rose as an "offer of amends", which is one of the remedies available in defamation claims. In court, the solicitor for The Times, Jessica Kingsbury said they ‘acknowledge that the article made allegations against [Rose] which were untrue’. This admission of guilt confirmed Rose’s case.

Support was shown for Rose on social media, with one solicitor tweeting ‘it is fundamental to democracy that barristers act for all without fear of favour’.

If your reputation had be damaged by the publication of untrue statements, don’t wait to contact us as you have just 12 months in which you can bring a claim.

Contact us today to receive advice from an expert defamation solicitor.

Article credit: Lily Wilson

barrister sues newspaper libel damages solicitor