Leading genealogical research company obtains pre-action disclosure order in “Heir Hunters” dispute

Posted on 01 March 2016 by Adam Tudor | Dominic Garner

Anglia Research Services, a leading genealogical research company, and its director Philip Turvey, have obtained a pre-action disclosure order against Finders International and its Managing Director Daniel Curran  (a regular participant in the BBC’s “Heir Hunters” programme). The case relates to an alleged dirty tricks campaign by Mr Curran and Finders involving, among other things, the posting of statements on web forums (both anonymously and under a pseudonym) directing readers to a false and defamatory online petition, as well as sending the defamatory petition to clients and potential clients of Anglia.  

The case is of considerable interest on the subject of the High Court’s pre-action disclosure jurisdiction in defamation, in which there had been no reported decision for over a decade.  The introduction of s. 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 has meant that defamation is subject to a “serious harm” threshold which, as the Court in this case observed, is likely to lead claimants to make ever more careful assessments of the value and validity of their claims before proceeding – an assessment which in some cases will be notably assisted by applying for disclosure from a prospective defendant before commencing.

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