By DebbieH 12 Sep 2018 7 min read

Law student fails to sue classmates over defamatory forum comments

An Open University (OU) first-year law student has run up a costs bill of £8,000 after attempting to sue six other students for alleged defamation.

The student, Samantha Exley, joined the OU’s online forum in 2017. Exley claimed she was “a practising solicitor with 25 years’ experience”, which attracted skepticism from other LLB students.

According to Legal Cheek, Exley took drastic action after being the subject of satirical remarks, issuing a claim for defamation in September 2017 at Barrow-in-Furness County Court. Exley held a senior member of staff at OU law school responsible for the student’s comments.

In January 2018, deputy district Judge Forrester struck out Exley’s claim. According to the judgment, not only was Exley’s claim filed in the wrong court, it had “no real prospect for success”. The judgment also reveals that Exley, who represented herself throughout the proceedings, was hit with a costs order of £4,800.

Exley later reissued the her claim through the High Court in April 2018, naming six students and the moderator of the OU forum, as co-defendants. The legal documents, seen by Legal Cheek, show Exley claimed she had been the victim of 300 “malicious, hurtful, defamatory and offensive comments” over a four-month period.

Her claim in April was once again, struck out. The judgment said that both Exley’s claim form, particulars of claim and accompanying documents were “an abuse of the court’s process” and failed “to set out in numbered paragraphs concisely the facts relied upon to prove the causes of action”. She was however, given time to submit her claim.

It would seem that her second attempt, however, proved worse than the last. The newly produced 78-page bundle largely comprised reproductions of various forum postings, alongside details relating to her education, work history and health.

This, of course, was not well received by the High Court. According to Master Cook’s judgment, Exley had neither set out the legal basis for her claim against each defendant, nor had she identified the cause of the loss and damage claimed. Exley’s defamation claim was struck out and she was hit with a further costs order of some £3,350.