Appeal Decision: Brian Kahn Inc Attorneys vs Media24 Ltd/ta

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Media 24 Ltd t/a Daily Sun

Respondent: Brian Kahn Inc Attorneys

Matter No: 77/2013

Application for leave to appeal to the Appeals Panel: Decision

1.The respondent lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman against the applicant in respect of an article published  in the Daily Sun edition of 20 February 2013. The first complaint related to the headline which read “Lawyers dump Malema.” The second was in respect of the inside story which said that the respondent had “allegedly dumped” Malema.

2.It is not necessary to go into the merits as the applicant only seeks leave to appeal the sanction. The Ombudsman’s finding was that the headline contravened article 10.1 of the Press Code, and that the inside story that respondent had “allegedly dumped” Malema contravened article 2.1. He cautioned the applicant, and also ordered the applicant to publish a correction, which he prepared.

3. The applicant seeks leave to appeal against the sanction on the ground that it is too severe. I do not agree that the sanction is too severe, for the reasons given below.

4. Firstly, all the parties agree that Mr Malema is a well known person; the headline would therefore have attracted a wide readership, which was probably the intention. Secondly, the respondent is a professional firm of attorneys and the idea of them dumping a client would be potentially harmful; an adequate remedy was therefore called for. Thirdly, Ms Galaktiou had specifically told the journalist that the firm had withdrawn from the matter. Finally, even if the sentence were to be felt to be too severe, it would be marginally so. I find the wording of the sanction to be balanced and appropriate.

5. In the circumstances, I find that there are no reasonable prospects that if leave to appeal were to be granted, the Appeals Panel would come to a different sanction; the application is therefore dismissed.

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chairperson, Appeals Panel.

21 August 2013