Why Johnny Depp Lost His Libel Case in The U.K. but Won in The U.S?

John Christopher Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an actor, producer, and musician from the United States. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as being nominated for three Academy Awards and two BAFTAs.

Depp made his acting debut in the horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), before going on to star in the television series 21 Jump Street (1987–1990) as a teen idol. Depp primarily acted in independent films throughout the 1990s, frequently portraying odd characters. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Benny and Joon (1993), Dead Man (1995), Donnie Brasco (1997), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) were among the films (1998). Depp also began working with Tim Burton, starring in films such as Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), and Sleepy Hollow (1995). (1999).

Why Is Johnny Depp Still Referred to As a “Wife-Beater” in The United Kingdom but Wins a Slander Action in The United States?

Why Johnny Depp lost his libel case in the U.K. but won in the U.S.

Johnny Depp lost a libel case against the Sun newspaper in November 2020 over a report claiming he abused Amber Heard. Why did the United Kingdom’s decision not suffice to dismiss the case in the United States? After the verdict in the defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, Hollywood star Johnny Depp declared, “The jury handed me my life back.” He couldn’t have said it any better.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor received much greater damages when a jury in the United States ruled overwhelmingly in his favor. Depp, who sued Heard for defamation over a 2018 article in The Washington Post about domestic violence, may have won. But his triumph isn’t complete.

The court also ruled Depp guilty of defamation as a result of his former lawyer Adam Waldman’s statements about Heard’s assault allegations. Heard received $2 million in compensatory damages from the jury, but no punitive damages.

Depp was granted compensatory damages of $10 million and punitive damages of $5 million. While Depp may be a hit in the United States, he is not so in the United Kingdom. Why is this the case? In November 2020, he lost a libel action in which he was accused of being an abuser in the United Kingdom.

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What Happened in The Uk Libel Case?

Why Johnny Depp lost his libel case in the U.K. but won in the U.S.

Depp sued the executive editor and publisher of the British tabloid The Sun for libel in 2018 after the publication of an article alleging that he abused Amber Heard and referred to him as a “wife-beater.” Depp maintains his denial of the accusation. The case was heard in the United Kingdom, where courts are known to be more pro-plaintiff.

The Sun had to show its allegations against the Hollywood actor were true when the matter went to trial in a London court. In July, the trial was held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for 16 days.

Heard was summoned to testify by the publication. Between 2013 and 2016, she claims Depp abused her 14 times,.

What Transpired During the Trial?

The judge had previously mentioned three instances in which he claimed Depp had put Heard in “fear of her life.” One of the incidences occurred in Australia in 2015 while filming one of the Pirates of the Caribbean installments.

Heard alleged he had beaten her on several occasions, amputated his fingertip, and blamed the injury on her. The judge did not believe Heard was at blame for Depp’s fingertip injury when he threw a vodka bottle at him. He acknowledged that Heard had been the subject of “several sustained assaults.”

Why Johnny Depp lost his libel case in the U.K. but won in the U.S.

There was another alleged incident in December 2014, about which the court stated he was “not convinced… constituted a bodily assault,” and another in November 2015, about which the judge said could not be substantiated because Depp was not put under cross-examination.

What Was the Outcome in The United Kingdom?

The judge found 12 occurrences of domestic violence out of the 14 alleged attacks heard in court. On November 2, 2020, Judge Justice Nicol stated that The Sun had proven the report to be “largely true.” “I believe her account of the nature of the assaults he perpetrated on her. The judge had stated, “They must have been terrible.”

“A common element in Mr. Depp’s evidence was that Ms. Heard had devised a fake and that she had done this as an ‘insurance policy,'” Justice Nicol stated, adding that the actress was a “gold-digger.” He came to the conclusion that he didn’t agree with such “characterization” of Heard.

Why Did the Us Case Continue After the Uk Verdict?

Depp’s complaint in the UK was against The Sun, not Heard. The London court’s decision did not lead to the dismissal of Heard’s lawsuit in the United States for an article published in The Washington Post in December 2018. That is why the lawsuit in Virginia was pursued.

Why Johnny Depp lost his libel case in the U.K. but won in the U.S.

Depp filed the defamation action in March 2019, three months after Heard’s op-ed was published, asking for $50 million in damages. Heard countersued for $100 million in January 2021, also in Virginia. Depp’s case against Heard has finished its trial. According to Vox, the actress’s lawsuit is expected to go to court later this year.

Why Did Depp Win in The United States After Losing in The United Kingdom?

The judgment, which went against Depp, was made by a single judge in the United Kingdom, whereas it was made by a jury in the United States. According to a study in The Washington Post, libel law in the United Kingdom has generally been more favorable to plaintiffs, leading to “libel tourism,” in which plaintiffs sue in British courts to further their cause.

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Plaintiffs in the United States have a significantly higher burden of proof when it comes to proving libel against a public figure. According to The Washington Post, a plaintiff in a libel lawsuit must show that they were hurt by an entity acting with genuine malice, which means they knew a libelous statement was false when they made it.

Depp’s legal team in the United States used a method known as DARVO, according to Mark Stephens, an international media expert (deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender). As a result, Depp became the victim and Heard the perpetrator.


“We’ve found that DARVO works well with jurors but practically never with judges who are trained to look at the evidence,” Stephens told The Washington Post.

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