A British judge has dismissed large parts of a defamation lawsuit filed by a Swedish businessman who tried to sue journalists who wrote about his company before it was listed on the Norwegian Stock Exchange.
Svante Kumlin, a renewable energy businessman living in Monaco, and the British holding company of his business group Eco Energy World were the subject of reports by journalists from the Stockholm-based Realtid news agency.
Kumlin complained that articles published in 2020 wrongly hinted that he and his company fraudulently marketed bogus ethical investments.
It was an example criticized by advocates of freedom of expression as Slapp (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), an improperly filed lawsuit in London to take advantage of the culture in the UK of excessive legal costs and deter legitimate journalism.
Following parliamentary debates over British reputation attorneys suing investigative journalists on behalf of Russian oligarchs, the Justice Department is currently consulting on possible reforms to filter out inappropriate cases.
Kumlin has before rejected the suggestion that the case was inappropriatewho claims that “our company is actually registered in the United Kingdom and … therefore the English legal system is a natural place to stand trial in our case”.
V a high court ruling released on WednesdayJudge Knowles dismissed most of the defamation lawsuit against Swedish journalists.
In the case of Eco Energy World, it found that any damage to its reputation due to the items had occurred mainly outside England and Wales and that, as a holding company with no commercial activity, it had not operated in the United Kingdom which could be damaged.
In Kumlin’s case, the judge found that the businessman did not have sufficient reasons to sue Swedish journalists in London.
“[Kumlin] he has failed to displace the general view that his center of interest is Monaco, where he usually resides, ”the judge found.
Analytical data prepared for the court by journalists claimed that the most popular article subject to legal appeal was 41 hits from England and Wales, while the least popular were eight.
The judge said Kumlin could only assert his claim in respect of the damage he had suffered in the UK as a result of the publications.
Realtida editor-in-chief Camilla Jonsson said the newspaper welcomed the decision, noting that five articles were found to contain no defamatory meanings.
A statement from Eco Energy World, provided by its TLT lawyers, stated that it “welcomes the judgment of Mr Justice Knowles, in which he concluded that [Kumlin]there is a good argument that the three articles published by Realtid have caused serious damage and are defamatory.
“As Realtid has failed in its attempt to prevent litigation in this jurisdiction, the proceedings will now continue in the English High Court.”
Jessica Ní Mhainín, head of policy and campaigns at the Censorship Index, said: “We welcome the decision of the High Court to dismiss large parts of the defamation lawsuit against the Swedish business and financial publication Realtid, its editor-in-chief, and two of its investigative journalists.
“However, we are still concerned that Realtid may have to continue to defend themselves in the London courts.”
Additional reporting by Karl Martinsson
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