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High Court disapplies limitation period in libel claim against BBC

Posted on 2 February 2023

The High Court has, unusually, disapplied the statutory one-year limitation period to allow a third claimant to join an existing libel claim against the BBC. The claim, issued in November 2021 by The Institute of OM LLC and OM. IP Co., centres on allegations made against OneTaste Inc. and key individuals involved in the company in a BBC podcast series called "The Orgasm Cult", which first aired in December 2020. Three further claimants - One Taste Inc.; its co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Daedone; and employee Rachel Cherwitz – sought to be added as claimants three to four months after the limitation period expired. The general rule is that libel claims should be pursued "with vigour", given the fleeting nature of most publications and the need for swift vindication.

Mr Justice Pepperall allowed Ms Cherwitz, a former Sales Director at OneTaste Inc., to join the claim. He accepted that she had acted on the advice of her US criminal attorney not to “engage” when the podcast first aired, and only became aware of the claim – and that she could even issue libel proceedings – in February 2022. He concluded that the balance of prejudice – where any decision to disapply limitation is always highly prejudicial to the defendant – favoured allowing her claim to proceed. By contrast, he ruled that this balance did not favour Ms Daedone and OneTaste Inc.

Ms Cherwitz and Ms Daedone also have ongoing, overlapping claims against the BBC for misuse of private information and breaches of data protection legislation.

Mishcon de Reya acted for the claimants with a team including Alexandra Whiston-Dew, Emily Nicholson, Harry Eccles-Williams, Leyla Linton, Emily Novelli and Sophie Hollander.

Sara Mansoori KC, Lorna Skinner KC, Zoe McCallum and Aidan Wills from Matrix Chambers acted as counsel.

The full judgment is available here.

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