Wednesday Jun 06, 2018
LONDON: Imran Khan’s friend Zufli Bukhari has instructed a West London law firm called Sweetman Burke and Sinker to send legal notice to Khan’s former wife Reham Khan but it seems that there are a lot of legal complexities involved and it looks improbable that this case would be assessed for a success and land in front of a judge in the courts of England after the defamation letter was made public.
Those close to the claimants have started to appear across media challenging the allegations which are part of the defamation claim and discredited Reham and her publishing claims.
Reham’s former husband Ijaz Rehman, former cricketer Wasim Akram and British-Pakistani Anila Khawaja have jointly launched the claim against her citing “defamatory and malicious” content in her upcoming autobiography.
Geo News spoke to some of the London’s best A-league defamation lawyers and have gathered the following key facts and scenarios in relation to the battle between Reham and PTI affiliates, who happen to be British nationals.
1. The firm Sweetman Burke and Sinker that has sent Reham Khan the pre-litigation letter is primarily a firm that looks at Family Law and Injury claims. It doesn’t seem to hold specialists in the area of defamation, but that doesn’t mean this firm cannot run a successful defamation case. But a look at the profile of the firm suggests that it has no defamation case specialty. The biggest issue the law firm will face is the fact that its defamation pre-litigation letter, which it wanted to remain private and confidential under all circumstances, has been leaked by someone – and through the battle fought on media in the public eye and not in a courtroom at a later date.
2. William Bennett, the person the firm writes as its barrister for the case, is a senior specialist in Libel cases but he is going to be very expensive for the claimants if he takes up the file after signing an agreement with the law firm. It is estimated that a single day cost can vary in between £7,500 to £10,000 depending on the preparation required for the day by him to represent the claimants.
3. Reham can further apply for an extension to respond for another 14 days on this letter, which will give her a total of 28 days to respond to this pre-litigation letter. But she doesn’t live on the address noted on the legal letter, she has not signed and received it yet.
4. The claimants have an option to apply for injunction for the book to be halted from publishing, although it is highly unlikely that an injunction will be granted as the court believes in free speech. Even if an injunction is granted, it will be for limited period of time and not for an indefinite period. The chances of an injunction after the leakage of defamation letter are nearly impossible. An injunction order could cost no less than £20,000 and Zulfi Bukhari will have to make a decision whether it’s worth spending that kind of amount which will have an effect for a limited time period.
5. The case is estimated to cost around £1.2 to £1.5 million to all the claimants, it could cost each claimant around £0.3 to £0.4 million.
6. There is a hurdle of jurisdiction involved too. If Reham lives in Pakistan and has a Pakistani domicile at the moment, she may claim that the courts in the United Kingdom have no jurisdiction over her.
7. If the matter goes to the court, Reham Khan can ask people like Wasim Akram, Ijaz Rehman & Anila Khawaja to deposit monies to the court as this is not their jurisdiction. Anila Khawaja has been living in Pakistan for over ten years; Ijaz Rehman moved back to Pakistan few years back and Akram is not domiciled in the UK.
8. This notice is the first phase of pre-action protocol. After 28 days the legal team can advise to file a court claim form sending the defendant (Reham) an official court notice.
9. This case will pass through various processes including, claim filing, defence being filed, response to the defence, cost review and then finally the trial. Looking at the court schedules, the trial date could be anywhere in next 12 to 18 months.
10. It could cost Reham around £0.5 to £0.7 million to defend this case, if she is to hire a top legal firm. She has a property in the UK under her name but it’s worth less than £250,000 and there is mortgage on it too. It is understood that Reham has already put her house with a trust for her three children.
11. The case can also be settled by Reham by offering each of the defendants a sum that would be considered a loss to their reputation, but the claimants will have to spend a lot of money to make it to the court.
12. The maximum amount awarded after the recent changes in libel law in UK is £250,000. Reham could be advised to offer each claimant £50,000 to £80,000 and close this case early, depending on a legal advice and assessment and whether or not the case goes to the high court.
If she makes an offer, the court will consider her offer as her trying to settle the case, and even in case the claimants win, they will not receive high awards.