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Law firm
Founder Peter Carter-Ruck
Headquarters London, United Kingdom

Carter-Ruck is a British law firm founded by Peter Carter-Ruck.[1] The firm specialises in libel, privacy, international law and commercial disputes.[2]

The leading legal directories (Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners) rank Carter-Ruck in the top tier of media, defamation and privacy lawyers in the UK.[3] [4] The firm is described as being "a force to be reckoned with"[5] and as "acclaimed for its depth of quality expertise" routinely acting in "ground-breaking cases for high-flyers in the fields of business and entertainment".[6]

Carter-Ruck's public international law team is described as "excellent, very knowledgeable and [as having] a flourishing sanctions practice" and as being "Renowned for its distinct expertise in sanctions against states and targeted asset freezing against individuals, and for its involvement in highly sensitive cases."[7] The firm's banking litigation practice is also ranked by both directories.[8] [9]

In December 2010 a new edition of the leading textbook "Carter-Ruck on Libel and Privacy" was published by Butterworths Lexis-Nexis.[10]

The firm offers some of their services including libel actions and high-value commercial claims on a "no win, no fee" basis.[11]


The firm was founded by Peter Carter-Ruck in 1982 after his former partners in Oswald Hickson told him to retire.[12]

Notable clients and cases

Recent or current clients include the State of Qatar, Tesco plc, Sir Elton John, Simon Cowell, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Liam Gallagher, Jude Law, Prince Radu of Romania, Frank Bruno and Chelsea Football Club. The firm represents numerous MPs (including government ministers), MEPs and other political figures including a number of national governments and heads of state.[13]

Boris Berezovsky

Carter-Ruck acted for the late Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky in a number of libel and other actions, including in the House of Lords against Forbes magazine,[14] The Guardian[15] and Russian state-owned broadcaster VGTRK.[16]

Henrik Thomsen

The firm defended a libel action brought against Danish radiologist Henrik Thomsen, who had questioned the safety of a contrast agent used in patients undergoing MRI scans, which was produced by GE Healthcare. The firm represented Thomsen on a “no win, no fee” basis.[17]

Madeleine McCann

The firm has been involved in several libel cases related to the missing child Madeleine McCann. Complaints were brought on behalf of the child's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, against The Daily Express, The Daily Star and their sister Sunday newspapers over stories that suggested that the parents may have been involved in Madeleine's disappearance. The complaints led to the publication of unprecedented front-page apologies to Kate and Gerry McCann, in addition to the payment of £550,000 in damages, which was donated to the fund to find Madeleine.[18][19]

Carter-Ruck also advised the so-called 'Tapas Seven',[20] the friends who were dining with the child's parents when she went missing. The complaints again led to the publication of an apology and the payment of £375,000 in damages, donated to the fundraising group Madeleine's Fund.[21]

Michael Martin

Carter-Ruck acted for Michael Martin, the former Speaker of the British House of Commons, and secured the publication of an apology for Speaker (now Lord) Martin by The Times. The firm acted on a 'no win, no fee' basis and Lord Martin recovered his legal costs from the newspaper. It was reported that over £21,000 of public funds had been spent on employing Carter-Ruck to defend him against other newspaper reports that questioned whether he acted impartially in the House of Commons, although the House administration confirmed that they had endorsed the use of Carter-Ruck for that purpose.[22]

Shilpa Shetty

Shilpa Shetty consulted Carter-Ruck after the Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy; she failed to pay a bill of £13,000 and was later sued by the firm as a result.[23]

Church of Scientology

In late 2008, John Duignan, a former Scientologist, published The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology, a book critical of Scientology. Carter-Ruck citing defamation laws stopped from publishing the book in Britain.[24]

In 2010, Carter-Ruck represented Scientology regarding the 28 September 2010 broadcast on "Secrets of Scientology" aired by BBC's Panorama, claiming the journalist involved was biased.[25]

Tullet Brown

Carter Ruck were reported as aiding 'scammers' Tullet Brown[26] enabling them to continue trading for 3 years whilst netting £3.2 million from investors. They threatened to sue journalists including Tony Levene if they reported the information publicly, thus stifling free speech. However, Levene himself stifled an investigation by another newspaper by alerting Carter-Ruck through his internet postings. Carter-Ruck appear to try and distance themselves from criticism in the press by replying to The Guardian's questions – "The partner who dealt with Tullett Brown is no longer at Carter-Ruck. Also, as you are aware, Tullett Brown is now in liquidation. We have no instructions to respond to your questions."[27]


Carter-Ruck was instructed by commodities trader Trafigura over press coverage relating to the discharge of oil 'slops' from a Trafigura-chartered tanker in Côte d'Ivoire in 2006. Libel proceedings were brought against the BBC in 2009 after a broadcast of the current affairs programme Newsnight falsely suggested that Trafigura's actions caused a number of deaths, miscarriages and serious injuries. The BBC went on to broadcast an apology as the opening item on Newsnight.[28] The BBC also apologised in a Statement in Open Court.[29]

Corrections concerning Trafigura were also published by The Times,[30][31] The Independent,[32] and The Guardian.[33]

In September 2009, The Guardian reported that Carter-Ruck demanded it delete published articles relating to the Trafigura toxic oil disaster, saying it was "gravely defamatory" and "untrue" to say that Trafigura's waste had been dumped cheaply and could have caused deaths and serious injuries. The Guardian later reported that Trafigura agreed to pay compensation to 31,000 West African victims. The Guardian also alleged that other media outlets in the Netherlands and Norway were also threatened with gagging orders.[34] These turned out to be NRK in Norway, and De Volkskrant and Greenpeace in the Netherlands.

In October 2009, The Guardian published an article stating that it had been prevented from reporting on a parliamentary matter, being "forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret. The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck." The paper further claimed that this case appears "to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights".[35]

The question subject to the gagging order was from Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme:

The following day the firm agreed to discharge the order preventing the reporting of the events, which concerned Trafigura and a draft chemistry report into the oil slops incident in Côte d'Ivoire.[37][38] Trafigura maintained that the report was a superseded draft report which was legally privileged and confidential, and that it had been obtained illegally and passed to The Guardian.[39]

According to a press release on Carter-Ruck's website the reason that The Guardian could not report the question asked by Paul Farrelly was because a gagging order had been in place since 11 September 2009, before the MP asked the question. They also stated that it had never been their intention to prevent the press reporting on parliament and that they had since agreed on changes with The Guardian to the gagging order so that they could report on the issue.[40] The firm also pointed out that The Guardian had in fact consented to the order preventing the newspaper from publishing any article about the chemistry report.

Subsequently, lawyers advising the Speaker of the House of Commons are reported to have agreed with Carter-Ruck's interpretation that the injunction as initially granted did prevent the press from reporting the Parliamentary question.[41]

The Conservative MP Peter Bottomley reported the firm to the Law Society due to their actions which prevented The Guardian covering parliamentary proceedings,[42] however the Law Society did not uphold any complaint.


Sir Christopher Meyer, former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said that the PCC was the firm's "sworn enemy" and accused the firm of using a Commons select committee hearing to attack the PCC. He suggested that Carter-Ruck and other media law firms probably saw the PCC as their enemy because, "we can do the job for free and can provide a degree of discretion." Cameron Doley, managing partner with Carter-Ruck denied the accusations made against them.[43]

The firm is frequently referred to as 'Carter-Fuck' by the satirical magazine Private Eye. Despite their antagonistic relationship, Carter-Ruck publicly sided with Private Eye when the magazine lost a £600,000 libel case against Sonia Sutcliffe in 1989. Founder Peter Carter-Ruck was subsequently invited to attend a Private Eye lunch, and soon afterwards he asked whether the magazine could stop misprinting the first letter of 'Ruck' as an 'F'. Private Eye's response was to print the first letter of 'Carter' with an 'F' as well.[44]

The Libel Reform Campaign

The Libel Reform Campaign cite many instances where the application of the libel laws by law firms like Carter-Ruck is effectively gagging the freedom of expression and free speech in the England and Wales leaving only the wealthy anywhere in the world able to seek justice in the UK where it would be denied in their own country.[45] See Also Libel tourism. However, these criticisms have been challenged by leading media law academics Prof. Alastair Mullis and Dr Andrew Scott.[46]

The most recent example of Carter-Ruck acting on behalf of a client to stifle criticism was reported in The Guardian newspaper on 19 January 2011. Carter-Ruck on behalf of Midland Pig Producers issued a warning letter to the Soil Association threatening libel proceedings after the SA objected to a MPP planning application.[47] Threatening such proceedings, which are rarely followed through, is a typical modus operandi of Carter-Ruck (and other law firms) to minimise scrutiny of, and adverse publicity toward, their clients.


Other firms involved in the same field as Carter-Ruck include Olswang and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.[48]


  1. The man who invented the London libel industry, Nigel Horne, The First Post, 13 October 2009
  2. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  3., Accessed 13 March 2015.
  4., Accessed 13 March 2015.
  5., Accessed 13 March 2015.
  6., Accessed 13 March 2015.
  7., Accessed 13 March 2015
  8., Accessed 13 March 2015
  9., Accessed 13 March 2015
  10., Accessed 7 November 2011
  11., Wade, Alex (7 May 2009). "Credit-crunch victims turn to no-win, no-fee for help". The Times. Retrieved 13 October 2009
  12. "Peter Carter-Ruck. Eminent libel lawyer with a reputation for aggressive tactics". The Independent. London. 22 December 2003. Retrieved 21 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13., Accessed 16 September 2010
  14., House of Lords Judgment: Berezovsky v Michaels and Others, UK Parliament website
  15., “Guardian libel payout to Russian billionaire”, Press Gazette, 10 March 2006
  16., "Boris Berezovsky wins Litvinenko poison spy libel case” BBC News website, 10 March 2010
  17., "US Drug firm drops libel action against scientist”, The Guardian, 18 February 2010
  18., “Kate and Gerry McCann: Sorry”, the Daily Express, 23 March 2008
  19., “Kate & Gerry McCann: Sorry”, the Daily Star, 23 March 2008
  20. "Who are the McCann tapas seven?". BBC News. 16 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21., THE TAPAS 7 – AN APOLOGY”, The Sunday Express, 19 October 2008
  22. Helm, Toby (11 October 2007). "Commons Speaker spent £21k on libel lawyers". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Shilpa Shetty's firm sued for payment default". OneIndia. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Barrett, D.V. (2008): How Scientologists pressurise publishers. The Guardian, Thursday 4 December 2008. article online
  25. "John Sweeney revisits the Church of Scientology". BBC's Panorama series. September 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Tullet Brown Scammers net 3.2million". Daily Mirror. July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Levene, Tony (8 June 2012). "A green investment that turned hazardous". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28., Broadcast apology, BBC Newsnight, 17 December 2009
  29., Statement in Open Court, BBC Newsnight website, 17 December 2009
  30., "Trafigura – Correction", The Times, 4 September 2009 (subscription required).
  31., "Trafigura – Correction", The Times, 29 April 2010 (subscription required).
  32., "Trafigura no link identified between toxic dumping incident and serious injuries", The Independent, 22 February 2010
  33. "Corrections and Clarifications" column, The Guardian, 6 May 2010 (hard copy newspaper only)
  34. Leigh, David (17 September 2009). "Papers prove Trafigura ship dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Guardian gagged from reporting parliament, The Guardian, 12 October 2009
  36. David Leigh (13 October 2009). "Gag on Guardian reporting MP's Trafigura question lifted". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Parliamentary question gag lifted, BBC News, 13 October 2009
  38. Trafigura gag attempt unites house in protest, David Leigh, The Guardian, 13 October 2009
  40. "Press Release by Carter-Ruck on behalf of Trafigura Limited and Trafigura Beheer BV" (PDF). 13 October 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  41., "Enemies eye chance to dethrone John Bercow", 6 December 2009 (paywall protected)
  42. Summers, Deborah (14 October 2009). "MP to report Carter-Ruck to Law Society over attempt to gag Guardian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Luft, Oliver (25 March 2009). "PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer criticises media law firms". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. "Peter Carter-Ruck (Telegraph obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. London. 22 December 2003. Retrieved 9 February 2010. In 1989 Carter-Ruck publicly attacked the £600,000 damages awarded to Sonia Sutcliffe against the magazine and was invited to an Eye lunch, an occasion he attended with some trepidation. Not long afterwards, he asked if, in the new spirit of friendship, they would now stop printing the first letter of Ruck as an F. Their response, not unpredictably, was to print the first letter of Carter as an F as well. "I think my relationship with Private Eve is now definitely hate," he said later.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. "Something Rotten in the State of English Libel Law? A Rejoinder to the Clamour for Reform of Defamation" (PDF). January 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Lawrence, Felicity (19 January 2011). "Soil Association given libel warning after objection to huge pig farm". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. "How to get a shred in law". The Lawyer. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links