The verdict that finally goes against libel tourism: Fatal blow for individuals with little or no link to UK trying to bring claims

Judge rules that former Russian investigator Pavel Karpov ‘cannot establish a reputation’ in England

Chief Reporter

The use of the English courts by individuals with little or no link to the United Kingdom to bring expensive libel proceedings has been dealt a likely fatal blow after judges threw out two defamation suits brought by foreign claimants.

Bill Browder, the millionaire hedge fund owner who has led the campaign for justice over the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, won the dismissal of the case brought against him by a former Russian police officer accused of playing a part in the 2009 death of the tax adviser while in custody.

Mr Justice Simon, sitting in the High Court, struck out the lawsuit brought by Pavel Karpov, a retired interior ministry investigator, after ruling that he “cannot establish a reputation” in England which would justify his claim that he was libelled by Mr Browder being heard in this country.

Lawyers said the ruling, which accompanied a separate judgment throwing out a defamation suit brought by a Serbian tobacco magnate on similar grounds, sets a precedent which will make it far more difficult for litigants who are unknown in Britain to use the courts to seek libel damages.

The practice of so-called “libel tourism”, under which international claimants have been able to file cases in London for alleged libels principally committed outside the UK, was already due to become more restricted when the 2013 Defamation Act comes into force.

Under its provisions, any claimant outside the European Union will have to prove their reputation was damaged in Britain.

The changes are being brought in after a panel of senior judges found that the reputation of Britain’s judicial system was being damaged by “overly-flexible” rules on jurisdiction. Some American states have passed laws granting immunity from British libel rulings, a move described by one senior MP as a “humiliation”.

British hedge fund manager Bill Browder saw a long-running libel action brought by Russian Pavel Karpov struck out British hedge fund manager Bill Browder saw a long-running libel action brought by Russian Pavel Karpov struck out (Rex)
Mark Stephens, the specialist media lawyer who brought the case on behalf of Mr Browder, said: “This decision will act as a serious disincentive for libel tourists to see this as their destination of choice. For too long crooks, brigands and those with only the most tenuous connections to the UK have been able to come here in order to launder their reputations in our courts.”

Mr Browder, who runs Hermitage Capital Management, has become a bete noire of the Russian leadership after a high-profile campaign to hold officials and investigators to account for a £140m tax fraud and the subsequent death of Mr Magnitisky, who suffered beatings in custody and died after he was denied medical treatment.

Mr Karpov claimed he had been traduced in videos on Mr Browder’s campaign website and sought to challenge his presence on a list drawn up as part of America’s so-called Magnitsky Act, which authorised sanctions against 18 officials allegedly implicated in the 37-year-old lawyer’s death. 

But the judge ruled that the connection with Britain of the former policeman, who admitted he had travelled to England five times in the past, was “exiguous” and Russia, where his libel case had already been refused, was the “natural forum” for his complaint.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all