Craig: decision on new trial up to Williams

After Justice J Katz ruled that a miscarriage of justuice had occurred in the defamation case between Jordan Williams and Colin Craig – see Williams v Craig – costs judged excessive, may be new trial.

Craig has responded saying that it was up to Williams as to whether he wants a new trial as he wouldn’t agree to accept a new damages award from Justice Katz.

RNZ: $1.27m Colin Craig defamation damages ruled excessive

In reviewing the case, Justice Katz said the damages were well outside any reasonable range, by a significant margin.

“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 court.

“The damages award is well outside of 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 highest previous amount was the $825,000 awarded to Auckland accountant Michael Stiassny in 2008.

“The Court of Appeal described the case as the worst case of defamation it could find in the British Commonwealth. Mr Craig’s conduct falls far short of that… yet the jury’s total damages award is almost 50 percent greater.”

One could guess from that indication that if the damages award was closer to 50% of the Stiassny award rather than an excessive 50% more that the judge would not have ruled a mistrial.

That would still have been a substantial award for Williams.

This is one of the risks with having a jury in unusual and complex cases – going overboard with their award gave Justice Katz little choice but to throw the case overboard.

Justice Katz said there would either have to be a retrial or the two parties could agree to accept a new damages award.

But Craig has already said that he doesn’t agree with accepting a new damages award.

“The only correct course coming out of that trial last year was to in fact rule it as a mistrial. The law has been properly exercised in this particular case.”

Mr Craig said what happened now was up to Mr Williams, as he would not be agreeing to any new damages.

“The fact of that matter is Mr Williams simply hasn’t made his case against me yet. He is entitled to take this matter back to court. If he does I will defend myself.”

“This is really his decision to make. For me, I’m happy where things are right now.”

Williams has issued a statement:

Statement from Jordan Williams

Responding to this afternoon’s judgment by Her Honour Justice Katz in relation to the Williams v Craig defamation claim, Jordan Williams, says, “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 has said that he won’t agree to resetting the damages, so that leaves an appeal or a new trial or leaving it as it is.

This is a tricky situation for Williams. He will already have a substantial legal bill, reportedly hundreds of thousands of dollars. He could double that by going to a new trial and risk coming out with nothing.

And claiming all costs may be difficult, given that Williams had attacked Craig first and over a period of time, and was found to have lied when giving evidence in the trial.

 

Williams v Craig – $1.27m

The jury have found that Colin Craig defamed Jordan Williams (two  counts) and have awarded a total of $1.27 million.

On count one, the jury ordered $400,000 be paid in compensation caused for the injury to Williams’ reputation and feelings and $90,000 in punitive damages for Craig’s “flagrant disregard” of Jordan’s rights.

On count two, they ruled Craig pay $650,000 in compensation and $130,000 in punitive damages.

The verdict doesn’t surprise me but the amount of the awards does – however delivering 1.6 million booklets to almost every home in the country is unprecedented.

Craig has already indicated it will be subject to appeal, which was expected no matter what the outcome.

Craig has made a number of mistakes, including:

  1. Improper behaviour with his secretary, especially as a married man campaigning on family values.
  2. Not paying his secretary.
  3. Having an interview in a sauna.
  4. Breaching a confidentiality agreement a number of times.
  5. Arranging a media conference and accusing people of lying.
  6. Posting 1.6 million booklets to households throughout the country accusing people of lying.
  7. Threatening to sue people for defamation.
  8. Not retracting his accusations and avoiding going to court when sued.
  9. Using Martyn Bradbury as a witness (that was apparently significant).

As I understand it the jury needed to decide whether Craig had made untrue accusations, and whether his response to accusations were a fair fightback or excessive, and whether there was malice involved.

There have been claims this is the largest award ever but metcalph at Kiwiblog details these awards:

Prior defamation awards:

  • Michael Stiassny & Firm $900,000 against Vince Siemer
  • Joe Karam #535,000 against Parker and Burkis
  • Quinn $1.5 million against the Holmes Show, cut back to $900,000 on appeal.

Nick R:

Court of Appeal can reduce any award of damages it considers to be manifestly excessive. It has done so before for jury awards in defamation cases. The CA has previously indicated that damages in defamation cases in NZ should be modest in the absence of evidence of actual pecuniary loss. That’s why I expect them to reduce this award, potentially by quite a lot.

So this is a big win for Williams, a severe blow for Craig, others in line for legal action against Craig are rubbing their hands together, and this is far from the end of it.

Anything could happen yet. I presume this doesn’t rule out Craig also suing Williams for defamation, but I don’t know if that is likely or likely to succeed.

UPDATE: RNZ – No regrets about sending out leaflet – Colin Craig

…and he says he would do it all again. That doesn’t sound like a sensible public reaction from Craig. Interviews with both Craig and Williams’ lawyer at the link. Peter McKnight:

Mr Craig’s comments could be further defaming Mr Williams, he said.

Dan Carter named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

Dan Carter has been named by the BBC as Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, beating beat Novak Djokovic, Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Jordan Spieth and Serena Williams by public vote.

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Carter’s profile will have been helped by having the Rugby World Cup in the UK this year.

It’s interesting to see Carter rated ahead of his All Black captain Richie McCaw, who had a higher public profile than Carter and arguably has been more influential in ll Black successes.

However it’s good to see Carter getting this recognition. The only other New Zealander to get this award was Jonah Lomu in 1995.

Sports Personality of the Year: Dan Carter wins 2015 Overseas award

The highest ever points scorer in Test rugby, he won the World Player of the Year award for a third time in 2015.

The Sports Personality of the Year ceremony will take place at The SSE Arena in Belfast on Sunday, 20 December, and will be live on BBC One between 18:50-21:00 GMT.

The awards will be hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan in front of a 7,500-strong audience in Northern Ireland, the first time the event has been hosted in the country.

Fly-half Carter, who joined French side Racing 92 after the World Cup, missed the All Blacks’ win in the 2011 final through injury but fought back to regain the number 10 shirt for the 2015 edition.

He went into the tournament, which took place in England in September and October, acknowledged as one of the greats of the game but with some doubts over his form and whether his body could still withstand the rigours of international rugby.

However, the longer the World Cup went on the better he played and, after landing a vital drop-goal in the edgy win over South Africa in the last four, a sublime performance in the final against the Wallabies saw him win the man of the match award.

In total he kicked 19 points, made 11 tackles and was an unruffled decision-making presence as New Zealand became the first team to defend the World Cup.

Carter, who retired from international rugby after the World Cup final, won 112 caps for the All Blacks in a Test career that started with victory over Wales in 2003.

He was born and raised in the town of Leeston, 30 miles south west of Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island.

The fly-half made his debut for the Christchurch-based Crusaders Super Rugby team in 2003 and, bar a brief injury-hit spell with Catalan side Perpignan, remained with them until his move to Parisians Racing 92, for whom he made his debut in the 33-3 European Champions Cup win over Northampton earlier this month.

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In New Zealand Carter is known as a first five eight rather than a fly-half.

Carter is far from being an out there attention seeking extrovert.

His quiet spoken humbleness who let’s his deeds do most of the talking  is a very good Kiwi attribute.

Carter has been one of the most influential and successful players ever in one of the most influential and successful international sports teams ever.