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The Rules of the Supreme Court (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) 1999

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Defamation actions

6.  Order 82 shall be amended as follows—

(a)for rule 3 there shall be substituted the following rule—

Obligation to give particulars

3.(1) Where in any action for libel or slander the plaintiff alleges that the words or matters complained of were used in a defamatory sense other than their ordinary meaning, he must give particulars of the facts and matters on which he relies in support of such sense.

(2) Where in an action for libel or slander the defendant alleges that, insofar as the words complained of consist of statements of fact, they are true in substance and in fact, and in so far as they consist of expressions of opinion, they are fair comment on a matter of public interest, or pleads to the like effect, he must give particulars stating which of the words complained of he alleges are statements of fact and of the facts and matters he relies on in support of the allegation that the words are true.

(3) Without prejudice to Order 18, rule 8, but subject to paragraph (4), where the defendant makes an allegation as described in paragraph (2), the plaintiff shall serve a reply specifically admitting or denying any such allegation raised by the defendant and specifying any fact or matter upon which he relies in opposition to the defendant’s allegations.

(4) No reply shall be required under paragraph (3) where all the facts or matters on which the plaintiff intends to rely in opposition to the defendant’s allegations as described in paragraph (2) are already particularised elsewhere in the pleadings.

(5) Where in an action for libel or slander the plaintiff alleges that the defendant maliciously published the words or matters complained of, he need not in his statement of claim give particulars of the facts on which he relies in support of the allegation of malice, but if the defendant pleads that any of those words or matters are fair comment on a matter of public interest or were published upon a privileged occasion and the plaintiff intends to allege that the defendant was actuated by express malice, he must serve a reply giving particulars of the facts and matters from which the malice is to be inferred.

(6) Without prejudice to Order 18, rule 12, the plaintiff must give full particulars in the statement of claim of the facts and matters on which he relies in support of his claim for damages, including details of any conduct by the defendant which it is alleged has increased the loss suffered and of any loss which is peculiar to the plaintiff’s own circumstances.

(7) This rule shall apply in relation to a counterclaim for libel or slander as if the party making the counterclaim were the plaintiff and the party against whom it is made the defendant.;

(b)after rule 3 there shall be inserted the following rule—

Ruling on meaning

3A.(1) At any time after the service of the statement of claim either party may apply to a judge in chambers for an order determining whether or not the words complained of are capable of bearing a particular meaning or meanings attributed to them in the pleadings.

(2) If it appears to the judge on the hearing of an application under paragraph (1) that none of the words complained of are capable of bearing the meaning or meanings attributed to them in the pleadings, he may dismiss the claim or make such other order or give such judgement in the proceedings as may be just.

(3) Subject to paragraph (4), each party to the proceedings may make only one application under paragraph (1).

(4) Where a party has made an application under paragraph (1) and the respondent to that application subsequently amends his pleadings to allege a new meaning, the Court may allow the other party to make a further application under that paragraph in relation to that new meaning.

(5) This rule shall apply in relation to a counterclaim for libel or slander as if the party making the counterclaim were the plaintiff and the party against whom it is made the defendant, and as if the counterclaim were the statement of claim..

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