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Monson v Tussauds Ltd [1894] 1 QB 671

Libel; injunction; consent

(264 words)

Facts

The claimant was tried for murder by gunshot in Scotland for which the jury returned a verdict of “not proven”. The defendants exhibited wax figures of famous/infamous persons and included a model of the claimant with a gun. The model could be viewed at an extra sixpence charge and was displayed along with figures of Emperor Napoleon I and three other persons known to have been involved in murders (including the one the claimant was tried for). This room led to another, the “Chamber of Horrors” where a further model of the claimant’s alleged crime. The claimant sued for libel and asked for an injunction to restrain the defendants from displaying the figure depicting him. The defendants denied the existence of libel and did not attempt to justify their action.

Issue

The Queen’s Bench Division granted the claimant’s requested injunction, stating that the presence of libel was obvious in this case. However, the further appeal concerned a question of whether the claimant had actually consented to the exhibition he later complained of.

Held

The Court of Appeal held that there was some evidence that claimant consented to the exhibition. Thus, the case for libel was not sufficiently clear to justify the grant of an injunction in this case. However, the Court generally stated that there was jurisdiction to issue libel-based injunctions even if the case does not concern trade libels. Libel can be in permanent form even if it is not in writing or print. A statue, caricature, signs or pictures – and thus, a wax figure - may also give rise to libel.


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