Legal costs of defending defamation action.

by Andy Wightman in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Legal costs of defending defamation action.
We did it
On 14th June 2017 we successfully raised £61,516 with 1758 supporters in 56 days

To cover the legal costs incurred in defending a legal action against me for defamation.

by Andy Wightman in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

These proceedings are highly likely to proceed to a proof before the Court of Session lasting around 8 days. Accordingly, the costs are now estimated in the region of £150,000. If I win, I can anticipate recouping around 60% of this. If I lose (even on a very minor defamation), I will be due to pay all of these costs in addition to possibly those of the pursuer. I am setting this stretch target for the remainder of this crowdfunder (until mid-June) and will then probably launch another one later in 2017. 

On 21 March 2017 I was served with a Summons by legal agents acting on behalf of Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC on a charge of defamation together with a claim of £750,000 damages (plus 8% interest from date of the summons). The action relates to two blogs I wrote In September 2015 and February 2016.

Shortly after this crowdfunder was launched, the pursuer lodged a motion in the Court to call the action and have it heard in Court. The case is therefore no live and will proceed. 

I am very grateful to everyone who has been in touch and offered to assist with the costs of this action. Defamation cases can be very expensive and thus I would welcome any assistance with costs. The costs involved are those incurred since the date of the Summons (all costs incurred prior to 21 March 2017 have been settled in full by myself). Before you donate, however, please note the following.

1. Neither you nor I can know what the result of this case will be. I am confident that I have not defamed my pursuer but only the Court can determine whether I am guilty or not. 

2. I earn a good salary as an MSP even after my contractual obligation to donate 20% of my post-tax income to the Scottish Green Party. I have £5000 or so of savings but the problem is that I do not know how much this case will cost to defend. I am therefore seeking to raise an initial fund of at least £10,000. Since the crowdfunder was launched, it has become likely that the case will proceed to a proof and the costs are likely to be in the region of £150,000. I have thus set a stretch target for this crowdfunder until mid-June of £50,000.

3. If I am successful in defending this case (and I am confident that I will be), I should be able to secure the recovery of some of my legal expenses (around 60% is typical). In this event, I will reimburse all those who have contributed to my defence fund in proportion to what each party (including myself) has contributed. Thus, if I am successful, you can be assured that you will receive some of your donation back. I will appoint a qualified auditor to report on my costs.

4. Funds raised in this crowdfunder shall be used solely for my legal expenses. If I lose the case and damages are awarded to my pursuer, I shall be personally liable for those. I own no property or assets of any significance and thus, if those damages are substantial, I will declare myself bankrupt and, as a consequence ,will no longer be able to serve as an MSP.

Finally, there are a lot of very deserving causes out there. I am launching this crowdfunder because some people have offered to help and for that I am very grateful. So please do consider carefully whether you wish to support this appeal or not.

Thank you to everyone who has offered their support over the past few months.

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