John v MGN Ltd (1995): Enclosing the Jury Paddock?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


IN SOME RESPECTS, the decision of the Court of Appeal in John v MGN Ltd1
is an unusual choice for a collection dealing with leading cases on exemplary
damages. True, the question of exemplary damages was an important issue
in the case, and some clarification was given over the culpability and standard
of proof requirements for such an award to be made. 2 However, as is indicated
by the dearth of later cases discussing these aspects of the decision, this is not
why the case is well- known. Rather, it is the approach of the Court of Appeal
to calculation and review of jury awards of damages that gave the case its notoriety. Paradoxically, in the specific context of the case – jury awards in defamation actions – the decision has become largely obsolete in light of the effective abolition of jury trial in defamation actions by section 11 of the Defamation Act 2013. Nonetheless, the approach taken in John has proved influential in other contexts so it remains relevant beyond defamation. More broadly, it also represents an important turning point in how appellate courts viewed the sanctity of jury verdicts. Exemplary damages, with their lack of any meaningful comparator, were an especially good testing ground for the change in approach adopted by the Court of Appeal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandmark cases in the Law of Punitive Damages
EditorsJames Goudkamp, Eleni Katsampouka
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherHart Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)978-1-5099-6700-1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2023


  • Tort
  • Civil Juries
  • Exemplary Damages
  • Punitive Damages
  • Legal History


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