Collyer Bristow helps cricketer to £90k damages in landmark Twitter libel case

Collyer Bristow has advised on a successful libel action brought by former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns in response to accusations of match-fixing made on Twitter.

The case, which is believed to be the first Twitter libel case in England, was launched in response to a tweet published in January 2010 by Lalit Modi, the former chairman of the Indian Premier League, which connected the cricketer to match-fixing offences.

Cairns (pictured), who was yesterday (26 March) awarded £90,000 in damages, was advised by Collyer Bristow commercial litigation partner Rhory Robertson, who instructed Andrew Caldecott QC and Ian Helme of One Brick Court.

Modi was advised by Fladgate, which fielded a team led by litigation partner Lawrence Abramson. The UK firm instructed Ronald Thwaites QC and Jonathan Price of Ely Place Chambers.

Judge David Bean, who presided over the case, said Modi had failed to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even strong grounds for suspicion of cheating.

He commented: “The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences but it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman.”

The damages were awarded despite the fact that only approximately 60 Twitter followers saw the tweet.

In the judgment, Bean also criticised Thwaites’ comment that the case was an example of libel tourism, stating that the claimant had gone to school in England and that an Indian hearing would have caused significant delays.

He added: “No application was made to stay the proceedings on ‘forum shopping’ grounds, and if it had been I consider it would have failed.”

Click here to read the full judgment.