A High Court judge has granted the Duchess of Sussex’s request to delay the date of the trial in her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday.
Meghan is suing the newspaper’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, for breach of privacy, copyright and data protection after it published a private letter she wrote to her father shortly after the Royal Wedding in 2018.
The trial will now take place next Autumn.
The full High Court trial – for which Meghan was expected to return to the UK to attend in person – was scheduled to begin on January 11, 2021.
But the Duchess’ legal team filed an application to delay the trial following recent developments in the case.
Firstly, her legal team has been allowed to apply for a ‘Summary Judgement” which would – if successful - scrap the whole trial completely and have the case heard before a judge, based on matters of law only.
Her lawyers argue that they have an "overwhelmingly strong case" and the Mail on Sunday has “no real prospects” of successfully defending its actions.
If the case were determined on a 'summary basis', it would mean Meghan would not have to appear in the High Court and none of her friends would be called as witnesses.
That hearing will now take place on January 12 and 13 next year.
The Duchess of Sussex also says her legal team needs more time to prepare for the January trial date because it has to respond to a recent decision which allows the Mail on Sunday’s lawyers to use the newly published biography Finding Freedom as part of its defence.
Meghan lost that pre-trial hearing last month when the court ruled in favour of the newspaper who claimed the book’s authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, had been given access to much personal and private information.
The Mail on Sunday’s lawyers argued Meghan and Harry themselves had authorised the passing of private information to the authors.
The Duchess’ attempt to appeal that ruling today was rejected.
So, the trial date is now being postponed until at least October 2021 while the lawyers go through the additional workload which that judgement created and attempt to make the case for this Summary Judgement in January.
Meghan's office says that a similar decision was made in 2006 when her father-in-law, Prince Charles, was granted took action on a 'summary basis' against the Mail on Sunday.
There was also a private hearing in court today when the judge and the lawyers from both sides heard some relevant information behind closed doors. We do not know if that information influenced the decision to delay the trial by nine months.