After a prolonged lull, Lalit Modi and IMG are once again heading for a showdown with England Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke as an Appeals court has allowed the sacked IPL Commissioner and the sports management firm to continue their libel proceedings against him.
The matter had reached the court last year when IMG and Modi filed a defamation case against Clarke, who in an e-mail to the BCCI, had claimed that Modi and IMG were planning a rebel Twenty20 league in England.
The case was entirely thrown out by the court in a pre-trial hearing in May when the judge ruled that nothing in Clarke's email could be considered defamatory and that the case should not be allowed to come to court.
However, that judgment was not allowed to be reported until Friday when the Appeal Court delivered its own verdict, the 'Daily Telegraph' reported.
Friday's ruling, by Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Moses, allows IMG and Modi to pursue their claim but only on the grounds that Clarke's email referred to Modi and IMG breaching ICC regulations by setting up a meeting with County representatives in Delhi in March 2010.
The judges said this was capable of being defamatory, according to the newspaper. The Daily, quoting sources, said IMG and Modi have indicated they are determined to see the case go to court. The case would not be heard before next year at the earliest and IMG and Modi will have to amend their claims in line with the grounds on which they are allowed to appeal.
Interestingly, all the three parties read the judgment in their favour. "I am very pleased with today's judgment as the judges have inferred it is further proof that this case should never have been brought in the first place. We have been categorical throughout and this latest judgment once again rejects all of the claims put before us," Clarke said in a statement. Modi wrote on his website, "I am delighted that today's ruling in our favour confirms that the chairman of the ECB will have to defend his comments in open court. I now look forward to hearing Mr Clarke's explanation at the trial." IMG statement read," The Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether Giles Clarke's statements about IMG and Lalit Modi, made in an email in May 2010, are capable of being defamatory. The Court of Appeal ruled that they are."
The legal proceedings had begun when Clarke sent an email to BCCI President Shashank Manohar after learning of a meeting between officials from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Warwickshire and Modi and IMG on March 31.
On May 2, Stewart Regan, the then chief executive of Yorkshire, sent Clarke minutes of the meeting which discussed whether a Twenty20 league could be established in England with IPL financial influence. The league had the code name Project Victoria.
Later Clarke emailed Manohar asking for the BCCI's help in dealing with the issue. His email was later leaked to the media. Clarke wrote: "It [minutes of meeting] sets out a plan to destroy world cricket's structure and especially that in England, and create a new rebel league. We also wish to take action against IMG for promoting this along with Mr Modi and to seek their banning from world cricket. ICC regulations are very clear concerning contacts of this nature which are forbidden."
IMG launched legal action two weeks later and Modi followed suit in June 2010.