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Thursday, 15 April 2010

The BCA Drops Case Against Simon Singh

According to the website of William McCormick QC, one of the barristers acting for Simon Singh, the the British Chiropractic Association has served a "Notice of Discontinuance".

The case is over.

There is no news on the costs position.

More information to come...


UPDATES

The BCA has now published a press release.

(Hat tip to The Heresiarch.)


Barrister and skeptic Simon Bradshaw has helpfully pointed out in the comments below aboutCivil Procedure Rule 38.6:

38.6— Liability for costs

(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, a claimant who discontinues is liable for the costs which a defendant against whom the claimant discontinues incurred on or before the date on which notice of discontinuance was served on the defendant.


We need further information before we know for certain that Rule 38.6(1) applies, but I suspect that this would at least be the starting point.



COMMENTS MODERATION

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33 comments:

twaza (@wassabeee on twitter) said...

Heartiest congratulations and thanks to Simon, Anita, JoK, and all his supporters.

Steve Rolles said...

Fantastic news. Congratulations to Simon, his team and all his supporters.

In the end its all worked out pretty well hasn't it*. For Simon (hero), for the debate on libel law (moving forward), and for science (win).

*assuming costs are recovered

Edinburgh said...

This is truly amazing. Thank you for your continued blogs and updates on this Jack. Hopefully you'll have more for us when the details emerge. But this is brilliant news.

Ash Pryce
Edinburgh Skeptics

Tash said...

Yay!! Simon FTW!
Didn't someone predict this just a couple of days ago?

PhilosoFiles said...

Great news, but my impression is that it doesn't automatically mean that Simon will recover his legal costs - unless the BCA have truly seen the light! Looking forward to your clarification of this...

PS: Great talk at Oxford Sceptics in the Pub two nights ago... I was the one who asked you what libel law if any we *did* need.

Paul Griffin said...

Well done to everyone involved. Great news. Really interesting case to follow, thanks to Jack of Kent. Three cheers, hip hip hooray!!

WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Let's hope Simon gets his money back and some compensation for the time he has lost.

But even so this is a bad day for Quackery.

SkepticAl said...

Congratulations, Simon!

ivan said...

There is an interesting article in this week's Private Eye which points out that this is not the first time Eady has ruled in a libel case where the alleged defamation included the word "bogus". Apparently defendant D described plaintiff P's degree from a dodgy institution as being a "bogus" qualification. P won the case, with Eady ruling that whilst there was little doubt of the dubious nature of the US institution which bestowed the degree (and subsequent to this case the institution was closed down by the US authorities for fraud), D's use of the the word "bogus" implied dishonesty on P's part in claiming to have a qualification. Remarkably similar to the present case. I suspect that the present appeal court ruling is too late for D to get any relief.

Jean-Michel Abrassart said...

Congratulations to Simon Singh!

Yeah!!!

Marjorie said...

Hurrah! Wonderful news - hope he gets his costs, too

Zeno said...

Fantastic news!

The BCA just need to pay up now.

But the battle for libel reform has still to be won.

The libel reform petition reached 50,000 in the early hours, but there is much more to be done.

Dave Cole said...

The British Chiropractic Association happily promotes bogus treatments without a jot of evidence.

Simon Bradshaw said...

Civil Procedure Rule 38.6 is pretty clear on the costs point...

38.6— Liability for costs

(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, a claimant who discontinues is liable for the costs which a defendant against whom the claimant discontinues incurred on or before the date on which notice of discontinuance was served on the defendant.

Ginger Yellow said...

" Apparently defendant D described plaintiff P's degree from a dodgy institution as being a "bogus" qualification"

Why the circumspection? The Paul McKenna case was widely publicised.

Kemposaur said...

Great news, congratulations to everyone who has been fighting for this!

BaldySlaphead said...

This is wonderful news and I'm delighted for Simon. I'm sure there's still lots to be sorted out in the weeks and months to come though.

Lots of work still to be done though - the law still isn't changed, and even if Simon was the catalyst, his victory isn't the end.

Finnieston Crane said...

Great news. He must surely be reimbursed after this.

Dr Aust said...

Fantastic news. Congrats to all concerned.

Of course, it does make my half-written post making guesses about the BCA's financial situation redundant. Ah well.

katarney said...

This is awesome news. Many congratulations to Team Singh :)

Dr. Brian Blood said...

Wonderful news - but still the BCA continues to misrepresent the case.

The press release reads:

"The Court of Appeal, in its recent judgment, has taken a very different view of the article. On its interpretation, the article did not make any factual allegation against the BCA at all; it was no more than an expression of ‘honest opinion’ by Simon Singh. While *it* still considers that the article was defamatory of the BCA, the decision provides Dr Singh with a defence such that the
BCA has taken the view that it should withdraw to avoid further legal costs being incurred by
either side."

Note the careless use of the word *it* highlighted above.

Would the man on the Clapham omnibus read this as an expression of the view of the Court of Appeal?

ivan said...

Ginger - because I had forgotten the names since reading the article.

As JoK pointed out, ending the case here was the best thing for the BCA to do, and they have drawn crumbs of comfort such as Singh's statement that they were not being dishonest (which they could have used much earlier). I'm disappointed: I'd have liked to see them lose at the Supreme Court, so that the precedent would be even more secure. As people have pointed out, the appeal court judgment was not flawless.

Daniel Rendall said...

I wonder if the timing had anything to do with the inaugural televised debate between the party leaders tonight? The cynic in me suspects that this story will get a lesser billing in this evening's news bulletins and tomorrow's papers than it might have been given otherwise...

Russell Blackford said...

Fantastic news, of course. I assume that costs are assessed on a party-party basis, so Simon is still going to be out of pocket even if he gets full costs awarded. Is that right?

We still need to see reform to UK libel law to minimise the chances of this kind of saga happening again, though the court of appeal's judgment the other day was a great start.

Tom Evans said...

Hopefully in a hundred years the BCA will have gone the way of the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, its memory existing solely in law books.

Ricardohere said...

HUGE congratulations to Simon & all involved.

Let's hope the costs issue is resolved quickly in Simon's favour & he can go back to writing great books & educating the masses without further rancour.

Thanks to JofK for coverage of this case - excellent!

nick said...

Isn't there some legal provision for Simon to appeal against the BCA's decision to drop the case, and force them to defend their position in the supreme court? ;-)

But in any case, great news, thanks to all involved

Tony Lloyd said...

1. Hurray!

2. Echoing Ben Goldacre: "dig your teeth in for costs", Simon.

3. Are the original letter before action and statement of claim available? If the BCA's claims that it was what they thought were clear accusations of dishonesty that was the problem one would expect this to be very clearly stated in both. On the other hand if they just banged on about a "plethora" it would appear to be a pretty straightforward refutation of the claim.

Dr Aust said...

I've covered the BCA's press release (plus, somewhat immodestly, my earlier prediction of its content) here.

rjh01 said...

Congratulations to all involved. Hope the BCA has enough funds to pay costs and not much more.

But seriously, what respect should anyone, especially those that give money to the BCA, give to the BCA?

Tony Lloyd said...

nick asked:

"Isn't there some legal provision for Simon to appeal against the BCA's decision to drop the case, and force them to defend their position in the supreme court?"

Oh yes! Civil Procedure Rule 38.4:

(1)
Where the claimant discontinues under rule 38.2(1) the defendant may apply to have the notice of discontinuance set aside(GL).
(2)
The defendant may not make an application under this rule more than 28 days after the date when the notice of discontinuance was served on him.


Simon's a nice guy. I'm sure that the idea of threatening to sue the BCA over that press release and leaving them a full 28 days to see if he'll ask for the case to carry on wouldn't occur to him. It'd occur to me though "bollocks to partial costs - I want all of them plus a grovelling apology for you suing or...."

adzcliff said...

Interesting how their statement implies that Simon's clarification on the BCA's honesty has been a significant factor in their dropping of the case - as if the current situation is now somehow a semi-satisfactory outcome. Crikey, potentially £300,000 down to clarify this point, unaccompanied by any apology, and with potentially no financial loss to the defendant?? Perhaps they can take some solace in the emotional strain incurred and Simon's loss of earnings? Anyway, great news!

Andrew said...

Re: Dr. Brian Blood,

I'm nowhere near Clapham, but I certainly misread that artfully dangled pronoun. I came here hoping that Jack could clarify it. Thank you for doing so instead.