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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Academic Dorsey allowed to appeal High Court ruling


Academic Dorsey allowed to appeal High Court ruling
Ruling ordered him to disclose sources for blog post

THE Singapore appellate court has allowed local academic James Michael Dorsey to appeal a High Court ruling that ordered him to divulge his sources for a blog post that a company has claimed is defamatory of it.
Mr Dorsey, a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, is appealing an order by Justice Judith Prakash to name the sources that he quoted in a blog post entitled "FIFA investigates: World Cup host Qatar in the hot seat".
Justice Prakash found that his sources had "prima facie breached their duties of confidentiality" under a master rights agreement between events management firm World Sport Group (WSG) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and ordered him to disclose if a copy of the agreement had been given to him.
WSG had tried to block Mr Dorsey from appealing on the grounds that "the order of the Judge giving pre-action interrogatories was not appealable".
But Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who delivered the grounds of decision yesterday, found that Mr Dorsey has a "right of appeal to the Court of Appeal against the order of the Judge giving pre-action interrogatories".
In ordering the appeal to be heard "on its substantive merits", CJ Menon noted that the action brought against Mr Dorsey is one purely for the discovery of information.
"This is separate and distinct from proceedings which may subsequently be commenced by the party having obtained the information. In these circumstances, it would be incorrect to treat an application to administer pre-action interrogatories as an interlocutory step in proceedings," he wrote.
"Accordingly, we conclude that an appeal against an order made on an application for leave to administer pre-action interrogatories does not come within any of the limitations prescribed in ... the Supreme Court of Judicature Act," he added.
CJ Menon also ordered WSG to pay Mr Dorsey the costs of the application, fixed at $5,000 inclusive of disbursements.
WSG, which is represented by Senior Counsel Deborah Barker of KhattarWong LLP, started pre-action discovery proceedings last year against Mr Dorsey to compel him to identify the parties responsible for publishing a confidential report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services, which allegedly contained statements defamatory of WSG.
The report, prepared on the instructions of the AFC and its Malaysian lawyers, reviewed transactions, accounting practices and contracts negotiated under the tenure of its former president, Mohamed Bin Hammam.
In agreeing that Mr Dorsey's article contained defamatory statements, Justice Prakash noted there was "an innuendo that (WSG) was involved in corrupt practices", including paying bribes to Mr Bin Hammam to secure the master rights agreement.
Represented by N Sreenivasan, SC, of Straits Law Practice LLC, Mr Dorsey has alleged the report is not confidential and that WSG ought to direct its planned lawsuit against AFC for "disseminating" the report. Mr Dorsey also argued that even if the contents of his article were defamatory of WSG (an allegation he has denied), they were fair comments.
Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. 
To view the judgment, click <here>.

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