Blomfield versus Slater trial over?

The Matthew Blomfield versus Cameron Slater defamation trial started last Monday, but I still can’t find any media coverage, so it’s hard to know exactly what is going on.

Slater posted on it at Whale Oil on Tuesday but he claimed this:

Legal action was started six years ago, but given the nature of [redacted], the plaintiff hasn’t actually been very keen to get the case before the court and has used every trick in the book to avoid this trial while I have fought to get the case before the judge.

That is so ridiculous (Blomfield as the Plaintiff could have ended the action any time he wanted to and court judgments show that Slater tried to appeal, delay and strike out the action) that anything Slater claims should be viewed with scepticism.

‘Bill Brown’ claimed here on Wednesday that the trial “Starts next Monday” but that is obviously wrong.

The case was included every day this week on the High Court Daily List, but it shows a change for Monday:

CIV2013-404-5218 Civil Proceeding – Defamation

That suggests Slater was right about one thing, he has another law representing him now.

But I have heard that the trial may have ended on Friday, even though it was set down for up to four weeks. I’m not sure what this means.

I know from past judgments that Slater “has not advanced an arguable defence” on some publications. He may have since done that but this suggests his defence in part at least is not strong. See BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2018] NZHC 1099 [18 May 2018] for a summary as at May this year.

The publications are incapable of amounting to expressions of opinion

[80] As I have already observed, it is for the Judge in the first instance to determine whether, reading the publication as a whole and assuming the pleaded imputations can be proved, the publication is capable of being an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact.

[81] Mr Geiringer invites me to consider this issue now to avoid wasting time at trial dealing with a defence that is not available given the wording used in the publications. I agree that this would have advantages. I consider, however, that the assessment should properly be made once the pleadings are in their final form. One reason for this is that an order for strike out at this stage gives rise to appeal rights that could jeopardise the trial date. Given the age of this proceeding that would be highly

[82] Furthermore, and as I have already observed, the defence must be based on the facts referred to in the publication together with other facts that were generally known at the time of the publication. There is no ability, as there is in a defence based on truth, to rely on facts that come into existence after the publication. These factors significantly restrict the scope of the evidence that Mr Slater may adduce to establish the defence. I therefore do not consider there is much scope in the present case for Mr Slater to call a significant body of additional evidence in relation to the defence of honest opinion.

[83] I therefore consider the issue should properly be considered at trial. It will be for the trial Judge to ensure Mr Slater does not call evidence beyond the scope of that permitted to establish the defence.

Slater only needs to lose on one publication to lose the case, but I presume the number of defamatory publications would affect the possible damages awarded. That will be for the judge to decide, which we will find out in due course.


  1. PartisanZ

     /  13th October 2018

    OMG … no media coverage …

    Sounds like a wise decision by the media …

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th October 2018

      I wonder if everyone involved has died of boredom.

      • I think some quite significant revelations may come out of this in due course, and I think the media are likely to be on the case then.

        • Bill Brown

           /  13th October 2018

          Or some media had to much to say on all things Hell……

          One question – Where is WARREN Powell ?

          • I have no idea. I’ve seen him mentioned in past court judgments but have no idea what relevance he has here.

            Is this an ‘asking something you know the answer to’ kind of question?

  2. Bill Brown

     /  13th October 2018

    Blomfield’s lawyer Felix Geiringer got the law wrong when referring to the Suminivich case on admissiable evidence – hardly a good look

    • One lost legal battle is not a big deal if it’s minor and doesn’t impact on the overall case. I don’t think it’s uncommon for lawyers to get law wrong at times. That’s what courts and judges are for.

      What matters is the success of all arguments overall. How did that go?

      • Hella

         /  13th October 2018

        Our hero is doomed.
        Has spent the week having his lawyers tell the court that he only has a handful of readers and his audience is tiny and he is flat broke so can’t pay.
        The month in Fiji trying to secure sanctuary must have drained his modest purse too.

    • BB – you said earlier in the week “Many causes of action have been dropped I see”

      Does that refer to number of publications, as were detailed in the judgment linked in this post?

      From that “Mr Geiringer frankly acknowledged on Mr Blomfield’s behalf that
      the application was stronger in relation to some publications than it was in relation to
      others. ”

      How many were dropped? And how many remained in contention in the trial this week?