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Commercial Litigation: Coulson and Mulcaire v News of the World.

January 4, 2012

Commercial Litigation: Coulson and Mulcaire v News of the World

On 21st November 2011 the High Court handed down two separate judgments against the News of the World ,one involving Andy Coulson, formally the editor of the News of the World and Glenn Mulcaire who was a private investigator engaged by the News of the World.

They both brought claims arising from indemnities given to them by the News of the World for payment of their legal fees.

Mr. Coulson’s indemnity was in respect of fees arising from him having to defend or having to appear in any “administrative, regulatory or quasi judicial proceedings” as a result of being at the News of World.

Mr. Mulcaire’s indemnity was against the costs and damages arising from the voicemail interception litigation to which both are parties.

Mr. Coulson had claimed that his legal fees for his arrest as to the phone hacking allegations should be covered under the terms of the agreement.

The court found that the indemnity did not cover him as to criminal proceedings but up to the stage of his arrest before proceedings had been instituted.

However Mr. Mulcaire’s  indemnity covered him specifically for the proceedings were he was jointly a party with News Group Newspapers.

There were some conditions that he had to cooperate and provide information but if he did then the indemnity would apply. News Group had terminated that indemnity and Mulcaire brought proceedings, as a consequence the court held that there was a contractual and binding obligation, there was no express clause allowing them to terminate the agreement on notice and NGN failed to persuade the court that one could be implied.

There was an argument that the agreement was void as to public policy. The judge found that was not the case because it was made after the criminal activity and the civil proceedings had commenced.

The court therefore found that the agreement was still subsisting.

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