Blog Post


Is London losing its libel crown?

Huge payouts in US defamation cases could spark a shift in London's reputation as libel capital of the world


Writer E. Jean Carroll won damages for defamation against former US president Donald Trump / Image: Getty

When it comes to reputation management, London has long been considered the world’s libel capital. But could the days of UK defamation law’s attractiveness be coming to an end?

In recent months, a spate of large defamation awards in the United States – some running into nine figures – have hit the headlines. Now some legal experts are predicting that the US may even become the destination of choice for libel claimants.

‘If I were 30 years younger, I think I’d be looking at setting up an office in the US,’ says media lawyer Paul Tweed, a defamation specialist who has represented a number of Hollywood celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic over three decades.

He tells Spear’s that he is increasingly hearing from HNW and high-profile clients looking to the States to protect their reputation.

Will this trend spark a new generation of so-called ‘libel tourism’, as HNW clients look to US courts to defend their reputation?

Libel damages: the sky’s the limit

US libel laws have been back in the headlines for one simple reason: money.

A spate of headline-topping cases have seen defendants awarded sums that dwarf those typically seen in London.

Earlier this month, a New York court awarded the author E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages after it found former president Donald Trump guilty of sexually assaulting and defaming her.

Around $2 million of the damages was for the assault, which took place in a Manhattan department store changing area in 1996, while around $3 million was assigned for Trump’s defamation of his victim, when he called her a liar.

Before that, Johnny Depp received $15 million (including $5 million in punitive damages) in 2022 when a Virginia jury held that his ex-wife Amber Heard had defamed him in a 2018 op-ed for the Washington Post.

read more

Our Offices


21 Arlington St
London, SW1A 1RN

+44 (0)20 8017 2738


4 Harbourmaster Place
IFSC Dublin 1

+353 (0)1 574 5268


Scottish Provident Building, 7 Donegall Square West, Belfast, BT1 6JH

+44 (0)28 9013 8562