Judge calls for test civil cases for phone-hacking victims

On Friday the High Court heard a number of phone hacking cases brought by a group of public figures against the News of the World, at a case management conference.

On Saturday the International Forum for Responsible Media blog reported that Mr Justice Vos suggested there should be four test civil cases “at a well-advanced stage”.

The selection is to be discussed by the claimants’ lawyers, Inforrm’s report by Judith Townend added, ahead of the next case management conference due to take place on 20 May.

Mr Justice Vos said he was most interested in finding out what happened, the extent of the interception activity, and what damages should be awarded.

He was keen to find the most time efficient way of doing this, with minimal cost: “Otherwise we will be going on forever. Some people may want to, but I don’t”.

The court had got to try a specific case and “can’t just try it in the ether”. There should be a guide as to what damages should be given in specific circumstances. For this reason, the cases selected would cover a range of issues. A trial – which would also cover generic issues – should be held at the end of 2011, or the beginning of next year.

Earlier this month News International admitted liability in a number of cases brought against the News of the World for phone hacking between 2004 and 2006.

In an announcement the owner of the tabloid said it would be making an “unreserved apology” to some of the claimants taking civil action against the title, in cases meeting “specific criteria”.

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