After the jury awarded record costs against Colin Craig in the defamation case taken against him by Jordan Williams Judge J Katz deferred entering judgment on request of Craig’s counsel.
She has now released her judgment – she has ruled that the costs and damages awarded were “well outside the range that could reasonably have been justified in all the circumstances of the case” (they were easily a record) so the defamation could go to a new trial.
 Viewed objectively, Mr Craig’s statements cannot be said to have been markedly worse than the statements made in all of the previous defamation cases that have come before the Courts in New Zealand. Yet the damages awarded in this case are significantly higher than any previous award.
 Taking all of these matters into account, I am satisfied that the damages award is well outside the range that could reasonably have been justified in all the circumstances of the case. The consequence is that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. The jury’s verdicts must therefore be set aside and a retrial ordered, unless both parties are willing to consent to my substituting a new damages award in place of the jury’s award. It is not possible to have a new trial solely on the issue of damages, as any assessment of damages must necessarily be based on the jury’s overall factual findings.
 In relation to Mr Craig’s second ground of challenge to the jury’s verdicts, I reject the submission that there was no evidence, or insufficient evidence, to support the jury’s finding that he had lost his qualified privilege.
 The parties are to file memoranda by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017 advising whether they consent to the Court substituting its own award of damages for the jury’s award, pursuant to s 33 of the Act. If confirmation is not received by that date that both parties consent to such a course, then I order that the jury’s verdicts be set aside and the proceedings be set down for a re-trial on the first available date that is convenient to senior counsel.
There are interesting points and explanations made in Judge Katz’s judgment regarding qualified privilege.
Whale is prudently not commenting much at this stage due to a pending trial of Craig v Cameron Slater – Williams v Craig developments
I realise this is of supreme interest to all of us, but as we are only weeks away from the Craig v Slater defamation trial in Auckland, we will not comment, and to keep things safe, we ask you not to comment and speculate on this blog. We are not bystanders able to comment freely, and therefore we also can not provide you with a platform to do so.
Judge Katz’s ruling will be very pertinent to this trial.
In a just-released judgment Justice Katz said a miscarriage of justice had occurred, and that jurors appeared to have failed to follow her directions.
“I am satisfied that the damages award is well outside the range that could reasonably have been given in all the circumstances of the case,” she said.
NZ Herald coverage: Verdict may be set aside in Colin Craig v Jordan Williams defamation case
The judge presiding over the Colin Craig defamation case says a “miscarriage of justice has occurred”.
Justice Sarah Katz said in a decision released today that damages awarded against former Conservative Party leader Craig were “well outside the range that could reasonably have been justified in all the circumstances of the case”.
In an emailed statement, Jordan Williams said: “The judge has offered the choice of her resetting the damages, having another jury trial, or we can go to the Court of Appeal. Over the coming days, my lawyers and I will be making those decisions.”
Craig told the Herald this afternoon that Justice Katz had “got it right”.
“It clearly was a mistrial and a retrial is the next step.”