Source The Jack of Kent
The case of British Chiropractic Association against Simon Singh is now likely to make legal history.
The news broke today that the Court of Appeal panel hearing the appeal of the preliminary hearing on meaning will be joined by the Lord Chief Justice.
The panel will now consist of England’s two most senior appeal judges – the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls – as well as the formidable Lord Justice Sedley.
This is exceptional and, as far as I am aware, unprecedented for an appeal on just a preliminary point, rather than on a full substantive appeal of a decided case.
This is the heavy artillery of the judiciary.
This panel means that any judgment of the Court of Appeal could have immense effect on the future approach of the High Court to the question of what constitutes fair comment or a factual statement, and it may give firm guidance the extent to which the High Court can again impose a meaning of dishonesty either generally or against corporations in particular.
The Court of Appeal may not take this opportunity to adopt a robust approach, but having the two very most senior appeal judges on one panel rather tells against this. The composition of the panel does not by itself tell us how the appeal will be decided, just the potential significance of the judgment on future cases.
It is thereby probable that this Court of Appeal hearing on BCA v Singh will become a landmark case.
Moreover, should such a panel choose to criticise either party, or indeed the High Court itself, the effect could be damning.
It is becoming very interesting.