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Tolley v Fry

[1931] AC 333

Case summary last updated at 17/01/2020 18:05 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Tolley v Fry

P was an amateur golfer and D depicted him as though endorsing D’s product, which was against the rules of amateur golf. P sued D and HL found for him, accepting that the implication that he broke the rules was damaging to his reputation. This was the case even though the message was brought about by innuendo rather than explicit statement. 

Lord Hailsham: Whether a publication defames depends on “the inference which would be drawn by the ordinary man or woman from the facts of the publication”.

Lord Dunedin: The circumstances, not solely the words, surrounding the publication are taken into account in determining whether it is capable of libellous meaning. He sums up the case as: “(1.) Would the caricature associated with the advertisement admit of a reasonable inference that the plaintiff had assented to be so depicted? That depends on the view taken of the picture, of its surroundings, and of its use. (2.) If that inference were drawn would it be deleterious to the plaintiff's position as an amateur golfer, and to do him harm?”

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