Shehbaz Sharif, the president of the PML-N, has moved the Royal Courts of Justice in London against The Mail, a British tabloid and sister paper of the Daily Mail, for publishing an article to defame him.
“The proceedings relate to gravely defamatory articles published on July 14, 2019,” says the petition filed by Shehbaz’s lawyer, who belongs to the British law firm Carter-Ruck.
The article accused him and his family of misappropriating UK government funds meant for flood and earthquake survivors during his tenure as Punjab chief minister.
The article carried a "grotesque allegation that Mr Sharif misappropriated UK taxpayers' money and in particular government aid intended for the victims of the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan," according to a statement issued by the firm. It adds that Shehbaz has denied these allegations.
“Shehbaz tried to secure a correction and apology from the publisher of the Mail. He has now commenced court proceedings only after the Mail failed to give a detailed and substantive response or to make any sensible proposals to resolve the complaint. They even continue to host the article online,” the statement adds.
It states that “Sharif intends to clear his name. He seeks the withdrawal of the allegations and an unreserved and unambiguous apology from the Mail's publisher,” it says. Any money that Shehbaz receives in damages will be paid to charity.
Shehbaz had filed a defamation suit against tabloid on July 26, 2019.
In the UK, people file for defamation after they’ve served legal notices to opposing parties and have not received adequate/sufficient replies, Khuzaema Gauhar Siddiqui, an international mediation expert, told SAMAA Digital.
It can, however, take a year-and-a-half to three years for the trial to begin, he said. It is because they have to meet all pre-requisites of a trial, including the scheduling order (when will the court actually hear the case) and the discovery process (evidence, witnesses, depositions).
“Once the trial begins, it normally only lasts one to seven days because most of the work has already been done,” he explained.
Speaking about mediation and negotiation between the two parties, he said that it is pursued after the discovery process and before the trial.
“Most of the cases are settled before the trial begins,” he said, adding that settlement, however, can happen at any stage. “Chances are based on actual facts of the case,” Siddiqui added.