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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Understanding PM Shehbaz Sharif’s defamation case against Daily Mail

London High Court awarded costs to ANL in a defamation case brought against the paper by Shehbaz Sharif. The court rules that Shehbaz's lawyer will have to deposit £30,000 by Nov 23.

Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) in a defamation case over charges of corruption, and Justice Matthew Nicklin of the London High Court has awarded ANL costs.

After Shehbaz Sharif’s attorneys unilaterally requested that the court dismiss the stay plea in favor of the trial beginning, the judge stated during a hearing that they must deposit £30,000 by November 23.

Read more: PM Shehbaz Sharif asks CJP to judicial commissions

The request was made by Shehbaz Sharif’s attorneys at Carter-Ruck after Shehbaz was found not guilty in the money-laundering case by a Pakistani court, but the plea for a stay at the London High Court was lodged much earlier.

According to the court decision, Shehbaz Sharif’s attorneys requested a “stay” of the proceedings in accordance with the Daily Mail publication. Prior to this, Daily Mail submitted many “stay” requests, claiming the Covid-19 closure, the security situation in Pakistan, and the legal team’s inability to go to Pakistan to gather evidence for the lawsuit.

According to legal sources, this “stay” was agreed between all parties – Daily Mail publishers, Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Ali Yousuf – in agreement but then Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyers decided to withdraw the “stay” just ahead of the case management hearing where the dates for the trials were to be set.

The purpose of the costs and case management hearing is to set directions for the case to proceed to trial and to consider the parties’ costs budgets, i.e. their estimated costs of the proceedings to a conclusion.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif forbids PM Shehbaz Sharif from accepting Imran Khan’s demands

Legal sources said that Shehbaz Sharif’s team decided to make this move after Daily Mail’s lawyers at Wiggins LLP initiated talks with Sharif’s lawyers at Carter-Ruck to consider ways to resolve the matter, including out of the court and ahead of the trial.

Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyers, according to sources, took “stays” after both London and Pakistan legal teams decided that since the money-laundering cases in UK and Pakistan were of the same nature, over the same papers and same allegations, it would be appropriate to let one jurisdiction run these cases while taking stay would be a natural course of action.