The preliminary hearing for the libel case brought against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association will be heard at the English High Court on Thursday. It may last up to two days.
As this is a preliminary hearing there will not be any examination or cross-examination of evidence. There will be no experts.
Instead the preliminary hearing will, as its name suggests, deal with certain preliminary issues:
- can the BCA actually show that they have been defamed?
- were the passages complained of in the original article "comment" or a statement of "fact"? Or both?
- what did the passages mean?
On the first point, if the court does not accept the BCA has an appropriate "reputation" or, even if it has, its reputation has not been defamed, then the case can be struck out straight away. If so, the BCA here will not have even got to first base.
On the next two points, the court's rulings will determine whether Simon Singh has to run a "fair comment" or "justification" defence - or both.
It is unlikely that the court will make its judgment this week, but it should be due well within a month. The main hearing, if it still goes ahead, will likely be after September 2009.
Please do come along if you are in London. There is plenty of room in court.