Phone Hacking Victims Drop Demand for Punitive Damages Against News International

The judge for the civil cases brought by the likes of Hugh Grant had expressed concern that such damages could interfere with the criminal cases.


LONDON - Phone hacking victims here have dropped their call for punitive damages against News International, the U.K. newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.


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The news comes a day after a judge in the criminal case against former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson set a preliminary trial date for September 2013.

The civil claimants dropped the call for punitive damages, known here as "exemplary damages," to avoid prejudicing the criminal proceedings. The judge in the civil cases had expressed concern that claims for punitive damages would imply knowledge by senior News International executives and could therefore interfere with the criminal cases.

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News International had previously also asked the court to strike the claims for punitive damages, which would have come on top of general damages, to limit its financial and legal exposure.

A News International spokeswoman acknowledged the decision on the punitive damages, but didn't comment further.

In a recent round of legal filings in the phone hacking case, close to 200 civil claims were submitted, including by the likes of Hugh Grant and Russell Brand.

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