A case involving a group of wedding singers and their booking agents is set to trigger the Supreme court to consider what consitutes ‘fair comment’. It is almost 20 years since Britains highest court (the House of Lords back then) considered the same.
The dispute is bewtween ‘The Gilletes’ a Motown tribute band popular on the cruise ship circuit and for weddings and booking agents ‘1311 Events’. The issue arose after the band cut the agency out of a deal to perform at a restaurant in Leeds, under the terms of their contract with 1311 any repeat bookings (they had already played the same restaurant previously) should have been made through 1311. 1311 challenged the band over the booking and Craig Joseph from the band sent them an email saying “Your contract is mearly [sic] a formality and holds no water in legal terms”.
This was though not taken well and the agency put a warning on their website stating that the band was “not professional enough” and that Joseph had said “that the terms and conditions of ‘…contracts hold no water in legal terms.'”
As a result the band brought a libel claim against the agency, the agency attempted to rely upon the defence of ‘fair comment’ However at a previous stage lawyers for the band managed to successfully argue that a ‘fair comment’ defence could not be used because of the misquotation i.e. ‘contracts’ instead of ‘your contract’. We await the Supreme court’s decision.