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Libel claims do not have to show actual damage, judges rule.

An individual can sue over likely damage to reputation rather than having to show actual harm has been caused, senior judges have ruled.

In a test case in the Court of Appeal, judges said that libel claimants did not need to show evidence of damage to their reputations, but could infer it from the seriousness of the statement made, the extent of publication and the influence and repute of the paper or broadcaster.

The ruling yesterday from Lord Justice McFarlane, Lord Justice Davis and Lady Justice Sharp, came in a case involving Bruno Lachaux, a French citizen working in Dubai, who is suing over articles in the Huffington Post, The Independent and the London Evening Standard.

The articles contained accounts of events in the UAE including proceedings against Lachaux’s ex-wife for allegedly kidnapping the couple’s son. The media companies appealed a High Court ruling that they had libelled Lachaux and that serious harm did not need to be shown. Yesterday the appeal judges dismissed that appeal.