High Court rules that some allegations made by the Duchess of Sussex in proceedings against Associated Newspapers Ltd can be struck out


Re: Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2020] EWHC 1058 (Ch)

Following a hearing of a pre-trial application, the defendant sought to strike out some of the allegations in the claimant’s Particulars of Claim for misuse of private information and breach of data protection rights. In the course of the hearing, the application was expanded to take in parts of the Reply as well.

The defendant targeted three aspects of the claimant’s case: allegations that (1) the defendant acted dishonestly, and in bad faith; (2) the defendant deliberately dug up or stirred up conflict between the claimant and her father; and (3) the claimant was distressed by the defendant’s “obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about [her] intended to portray her in a false and damaging light”. The grounds of attack on each aspect of the case were that the allegations are irrelevant in law, or inadequately particularised, or that it would be disproportionate to litigate the issues raised so that they should be excluded from the scope of the case on case management grounds.

The Court held that all three categories of allegation should be struck out of the Particulars of Claim, and the Further Information about it. The Court also agreed that passages of the Reply should be struck out. Some of these conclusions were however without prejudice to the claimant’s right to come back with an application for permission to make amendments that comply with the applicable law and principles.

Antony White QC was involved in this case.