This is a brief lay summary of the my blogpost on the Court of Appeal decision in British Chiropractic Association v Dr Singh  EWCA Civ 350.
- the Court of Appeal distinguished between evidence and data;
- what evidence means will depend on context;
- however, in matters "concerned with the establishment of dependable generalisations about cause and effect", then contentions about evidence will normally be value judgments not statements of fact;
- matters "concerned with the establishment of dependable generalisations about cause and effect" include but are not limited to scientific debates;
- accordingly Simon's statement "not a jot of evidence" must be a value judgment, and not a statement of fact which he has to justify;
- it follows that Simon's use of "bogus" and "happily" were aspects of this value judgment;
- the meaning of the words complained of is therefore that the BCA was promoting what Simon contends are bogus treatments without regard to the want of reliable evidence of their efficacy;
- it was not open to Mr Justice Eady to equate "happily" with dishonestly - the word instead meant blithely;
- accordingly Simon has the defence of fair comment or "honest opinion", which can be rebutted by the BCA proving he was acting maliciously; and
- the wonderful Easterbrook quotation and the references to Orwell and Milton merely add emphasis to the importance of treating scientific contentions as value judgments.
The BCA now has to decide whether to apply to the Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords); if the BCA does not, then the case returns to the High Court and can proceed to trial (though there is an outstanding issue as to whether the BCA as a company limited by guarantee (rather than one owned by shareholders) can even sue for libel).
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