Law: A Spin on the Courts - or the Courts in a Spin? Litigation PR Is a Growth Industry, and Skilful Management of the Media Can Pave the Way for Lucrative Out-of-Court Settlements

By Lindsay, Robert | The Independent (London, England), August 3, 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Law: A Spin on the Courts - or the Courts in a Spin? Litigation PR Is a Growth Industry, and Skilful Management of the Media Can Pave the Way for Lucrative Out-of-Court Settlements


Lindsay, Robert, The Independent (London, England)


JUSTICE MUST not only be done, it must be seen to be done - that adage could stand as the motto for Britain's small but growing band of practitioners of the new black craft of litigation PR. But the problem is that the way these people show it being done may not be to everyone's taste.

The general public will not have heard of litigation PR, nor will many high-flying lawyers and executives in the City of London where it is largely practised - because it is of necessity a discreet business.

They will, however, have seen the headlines for which it has been responsible: the legal battle of Tommy Hilfiger and Nike to get Sainsbury's and Tesco to stop selling certain brand-name goods, and the German company suing the British government for dropping it from the contract to build the Millennium Dome.

Behind a majority of those headlines is Cambridge graduate and former bond dealer Stephen Lock. He has acted for the plaintiffs in those cases, behind the scenes and outside the courtroom. Above his desk at City PR firm, Ludgate Communications, is a framed example of his proudest coup - an Evening Standard front page with the headline "Prince in pounds 21m Park Lane sex den". Mr Lock acted for the Manoukian family who in 1998 sued Prince Jefri of Brunei for pounds 18m. The Prince settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, largely, Mr Lock claims, as a result of newspaper coverage of his private life.

"It has never been published what my client received," grins Mr Lock, "suffice to say that it put a broad smile on the client's face, and ours."

This is what is involved in litigation PR - embarrassing the other side into settling. Any press coverage that influences the outcome of a trial could be deemed contempt of court - a criminal offence. For solicitors to talk to the press about their cases on the courtroom steps is still viewed as a little risque in some quarters; and barristers are still forbidden to discuss their cases.

But a handful of the UK's barristers and solicitors are learning that it can often help to tip off journalists about a forthcoming case, particularly in industrial tribunals, where the employer may prefer to settle rather than see embarrassing details spread over newspapers.

In the more litigious US, a whole industry has grown up around litigation PR - recent estimates are that about 20 PR agencies in the US are wholly or mainly devoted to this practice. Ludgate is thought to be the only PR company in the UK to set up a team specifically targeted at winning litigation PR work.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Law: A Spin on the Courts - or the Courts in a Spin? Litigation PR Is a Growth Industry, and Skilful Management of the Media Can Pave the Way for Lucrative Out-of-Court Settlements
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?