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Your rival's products: be careful what you say!

View profile for Torion Bowles
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In the case of Al-Ko Kober Ltd v Sambhi [2019] EWHC 2409 (QB) (13 September 2019) the High Court has granted summary judgment in favour of Al-Ko Kober Ltd and its marketing director against the defendant, who manufactured a competing product (stabilisers for towing caravans), for their claims for defamation, malicious falsehood and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998).

Sambhi published 84 videos on its YouTube channel which were derogatory of Al-Ko Kober Ltd’ product, and which were attributed to their marketing director. Some of the videos published words and images which included footage of Al-Ko Kober Ltd’s marketing director speaking at trade fairs about their product. Sambhi’s videos showed caravan accidents and claimed the following about Al-Ko Kober Ltd:

  • their stabiliser was unsafe and a "killer",
  • the company was knowingly risking the lives of the public by selling it,
  • they ran a fraudulent business that was "scamming" its customers
  • their marketing director had told lies about the stabiliser which they had tried to prevent becoming public knowledge.

Two years previously, the High Court had granted an interim injunction against Sambhi for malicious falsehood and failure to comply with a data subject notice under section 10 of the DPA 1998. In respect of the application for summary judgment for defamation, the High Court determined that the statements made in the Sambhi’s videos were based on a false premise that Al-Ko Kober Ltd and the marketing director had lied about the product preventing “snaking” (the swaying of a caravan from side to side while being towed).

A key consideration in the Court’s decision was Al-Ko Kober Ltd’s marketing materials, which only stated the stabiliser was "designed to minimise and help reduce trailer sway" and it was highly significant that Sambhi’s statements were made in the context of promoting his own competing product. The Court determined that it was self-evident the likelihood that Al-Ko Kober Ltd had suffered pecuniary loss by way of lost sales.

You can contact Torion Bowles to discuss this case further by calling 023 8071 7455 or email torionbowles@warnergoodman.co.uk

This article has been published as part of the latest issue of our Commercial Brief, detailed within the In Brief section. To view the other articles within our Commercial Brief click here, alternatively view the other In Brief articles below:

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.