1 This Practice Note (other than paragraph 3), and recent amendments to Pt 67 of the Rules, will apply to proceedings for defamation commenced on or after 1 September 2000.
2 Practice Note 14 and the notes thereto will continue to apply to other defamation proceedings, subject to the application of s 76A of the Supreme Court Act 1970 and Pt 15A and Pt 26 r 1, but will not apply to proceedings to which this Practice Note applies.
3 Paragraph 1(1) of Practice Note 51 (which relates to subpoenas) shall have no further application to defamation proceedings, whenever commenced.
4 The Court may direct that this Practice Note apply to any proceedings suitable to be entered in the Defamation List.
5 The Court may direct that proceedings be removed from the Defamation List, in which case:
Listings & Hearings
(a) this Practice Note shall not continue to apply to the proceedings except to the extent, if any, that the Court may direct; and
(b) any orders made or directions given prior to removal shall not be affected.
6 It is intended that proceedings will normally be before the Court on the following occasions:
7 No more than 6 months will be permitted to elapse between steps 6(a) and (b), (b) and (c), and (c) and (d). If the proceedings are not listed in accordance with this Practice Note, the Rules or directions, the Court will call up the proceedings for management or disposal.
(a) the return date of the Notice of Motion for Directions (Pt 67 r 11A);
(b) the trial of issues as provided for by s 7A(1)(3) of the Defamation Act 1974 (“the s 7A trial”);
(c) the Readiness & Final Directions Hearing fixed when directions are given at the conclusion of the s 7A trial;
(d) the trial of the balance of the proceedings.
Notice of Motion for Directions
8 The Notice of Motion for Directions to be served with the Statement of Claim will fix a return date not less than 28 days from the date of filing.
Statement of Claim
9 Full and complete particulars as required by Pt 67 r 12 must be furnished.
Return Date of Notice of Motion for Directions
10 Pt 67 has been amended to ensure that early notice is given of the position of each party in relation to any objection or other dispute in relation to any matter pleaded or particularised in the Statement of Claim. The Defamation List Judge will hear and determine any such matter.
11 On the return date of the notice of motion:
12 Upon the resolution of issues identified at the return date of the notice of motion, and the determination of all issues as to form and capacity of imputations, the proceedings will be set down for the s 7A trial.
(a) the defendant will be required to state whether it admits publication of the matter complained of; and
(b) the parties will be required to state whether they dispense with matters requiring formal proof for the purposes of the s 7A trial.
Directions as to s 7A trial
13 Directions will be given by the Defamation List Judge as to the preparation of the proceedings for the s 7A trial, including the exchange of witness statements (for example expert reports, including reports by expert translators), in respect of each party's case in chief.
14 Those directions will not, otherwise than in exceptional circumstances, require any party to give interim discovery, or authorise any party to administer interrogatories, in relation to s 7A trial issues.
S 7A trial
15 Upon the s 7A trial being listed for hearing, its conduct will be a matter for the trial Judge.
Direction by the s 7A trial Judge
16 Upon the completion of the s 7A trial, the trial Judge will give further directions for the conduct of the proceedings.
17 Directions will be given by the s 7A trial Judge in relation to remaining pleadings, discovery and interrogatories. It is to be recognised that, otherwise than in the most exceptional cases, the parties can plead notwithstanding any perceived defects in the other side's pleadings or the particularisation therein.
18 Each side's pleadings must contain full and proper particulars required by the Rules and as directed. No allowance will be made in those directions for the exchange of particulars by correspondence.
19 It should not be assumed that liberty to apply will be granted.
20 The s 7A trial Judge will fix a Readiness & Final Directions Hearing before the Defamation List Judge no later than 6 months after the s 7A trial.
Particulars in Defence and Reply
21 Full and proper particulars must be provided with the Defence and Reply of all matters required by the Rules and as directed, unless the Court otherwise orders.
Discovery & Interrogatories
22 By reason of the parties’ obligation to properly particularise their respective cases in the pleadings, it will be expected that all issues, at the time of the filing of the Reply, will have been exposed to enable the parties to comply strictly with Rules and directions as to discovery and inspection.
23 Except by leave, interrogatories shall be no more than 30 in number (Pt 24 r 1).
Notification of matters in dispute
24 The directions given by the s 7A trial Judge will include directions as to the notification by each side to the other prior to Readiness & Final Directions Hearing of all matters in dispute following the conclusion of the pleadings, discovery and interrogatories. That notification will be required to be specific and to include an outline of submissions in relation to each matter in dispute.
Readiness & Final Directions Hearing
25 At the Readiness & Final Directions hearing the Defamation List Judge will:
(a) determine matters in dispute referred to in paragraph 24; and
(b) give directions as to the preparation for the trial of the balance of the issues, including service of witness statements, return dates for subpoenas and notices to produce, and making of admissions.
Trial of the Balance of the Issues
26 The conduct of the trial of the balance of the issues will be for the trial Judge. This trial is to be a trial in the strict sense and not an occasion for the parties to seek to ventilate any interlocutory matters. If the matter is not ready for trial, the trial Judge will determine whether the trial should proceed or be vacated at the cost of any party found by that Judge to be in default.
Other Interlocutory Proceedings
27 As stated above, the liberty to apply which hitherto has been automatically available in the conduct of the Defamation List will not be available. If, at any stage, apart from the return date of the Notice of Motion for Directions or the Readiness & Final Directions Hearing, a party seeks interlocutory relief, that relief should be sought formally by the filing of a notice of motion returnable in a Defamation Directions List no earlier than 14 days from the issue of the notice of motion. With that notice of motion must be filed an affidavit containing relevant matters by way of evidence in support of the relief sought, together with an outline of submissions, to which the opposing party must respond in writing no later than 3 days before the return date.
28 The following Practice Notes and Rules will be of particular relevance to the conduct of the Defamation List:
(a) Practice Note 85 (Injunctions Against Publication);
(b) Practice Note 105 (Use of Technology in Civil Litigation);
(c) Practice Note 107 (Photocopy Access);
(d) Practice Note 108 (Costs Orders Against Practitioners);
(e) Pt 36 r 4A (Witness Statements)
(f) Pt 36 r 13C (Expert Witnesses);
(g) Pt 39 (Court Appointed Experts).
25 July 2000