Craig v Stiekema [2017] NZDC 15914

Published 14 December 2017

Defamation — Jameel v Dow Jones and Co Inc [2015] QB 946 — Opai v Culpan [2017] NZHC 1036 — X v Attorney-General of New Zealand [2017] NZHC 1136 — District Court Rules 2014, r 15.1. Mr Craig sued Ms Stiekema in defamation for damages totalling $240,000 plus costs. Ms Stiekema was employed by one of Mr Craig's companies. The defamations alleged by Mr Craig in this proceeding all involved a communication by Ms Stiekema with Mr Stringer via “Facebook”. These occurred in or about September 2015 and were pleaded in three separate causes of action. Ms Stiekema applied to strike out the claim in its entirety as an abuse of the process of the court. The court relied on the "Jameel principle", "where unless a plaintiff in a defamation suit could establish that there was a real and substantial tort the claim was at risk of being struck out as an abuse of process". The court accepted that no serious tort had been established that would justify the claim proceeding to trial and the entire claim was struck out pursuant to District Court Rule 15.1 under the Jameel principle, and because of the extremely limited distribution of the statements and the unlikelihood that they would have any effect on Mr Craig's reputation. Judgment Date: 31 July 2017