High court decides Clarkson’s Top Gear review of Tesla Roadster was not defamatory

Tesla vs. Top Gear

BBC’s ever-popular Top Gear was facing legal action from automaker Tesla because of a review done on the model back in 2008, which the company perceived as malicious faslehood.

The Top Gear team’s December 2008 shows they took the Tesla model out on the track where the car’s battery died, and was then pushed to a garage to recharge.

Jeremy Clarkson commented that “Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles we have worked out that on our track it will run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out, it is not a quick job to charge it up again”.

Tesla says neither of the two events actually took place, and says that Top Gear made it seem as if Tesla “intentionally and significantly misrepresented the range of the Roadster by claiming that it had a range of about 200 miles in that its true range on the Top Gear track was only 55 miles”.

An amended libel claim was dismissed by Mr. Justice Tugendhat, who ruled in favor on Top Gear, noting that the amendment was “not capable of being defamatory at all, or, if it is, it is not capable of being a sufficiently serious defamatory meaning to constitute a real and substantial tort”.

He gave additional reasoning for his ruling, saying that “as any reasonable motorist knows, a manufacturer’s statement about the range of a motor vehicle is always qualified by a statement as to the driving conditions under which that range may be expected. For example, one range may be given for urban driving, and another for other conditions. But such statements are rarely, if ever, given to the public by reference to racing on a test track.”

BBC is clearly happy with the Judge’s ruling,

By: Alexandra Koken

Source: Guardian