Litigation Lessons from a Pirate of the Caribbean

Recently, the newspapers reported the judgement in the case of Johnny Depp’s libel action against New Group Newspapers. 

The actor had sued the publisher of the Sun for an article which labelled him a “wife-beater”.  Mr Justice Nicol stated in his decision that the allegations published by the Sun and News Group Newspapers were substantially true. 

Johnny Depp is now reportedly facing a £5 million legal bill.   Maybe this is easily affordable to somebody who is used to treasure chests and may even have a few tucked away.  According to Depp, this case was never about money and was only about reputation. 

However, the consensus from commentators on the case is that the dirty laundry that was washed in a public Court in July this year and widely reported on in all the press will have a far greater and far more lasting and damaging impact to his reputation than the original article that was published in the Sun.  This case was a real ‘he said, she said’ trial.  What was a given by one party was clearly not believed by Mr Justice Nicol. 

There are many well-considered and wise commentaries from eminent legal professionals on what could have been done differently which would have resulted in considerably less cost, far less damage to reputation and furthermore may even have repaired some of the initial damage resulting from the original article. 

Most individuals and businesses may never have to contemplate litigation to defend reputation but there may well be occasions when litigation is considered as an option when trying to enforce a contract and recover losses or to recover diminished value of an asset.

Good expert advice from an experienced forensic accountant can be money extremely well spent as a sound, realistic and thorough understanding of the quantification of losses needs to be understood.  This coupled with the usual input from the legal team on the legal strengths (and weaknesses) of the case will inform a litigating party of when it may be better to compromise and possibly settle a case rather than go the expense and risk of a proof.  The objective of the exercise is to maximise a recovery from the present situation and that is after costs. 

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Henderson Loggie’s forensic accounting department has extensive expertise in giving sound, realistic and defendable financial quantification of losses and values when considering litigation.  They also are used to giving evidence from the witness box in a Court if a compromise cannot be found.