R v Grobbelaar - Case Summary

University / Undergraduate
Modified: 22nd Feb 2024
Wordcount: 577 words


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Legal Case Summary

Summary: Legal Case Summary: Renowned footballer, Grobbelaar, accused of match-fixing. Successfully claimed against Sun newspaper but later charged with conspiracy.


Bruce Grobbelaar, an accomplished footballer, was accused by The Sun newspaper of match-fixing and accepting bribes between 1991 and 1994 to throw matches (Hudson, 2002). This was based on filmed evidence provided by a former business associate. Grobbelaar sued the newspaper and was awarded £85,000 for defamation (Rickshaws, 2019).

However, in 1997 Grobbelaar was charged with conspiracy to corrupt, alongside Heng Suan Lim and Chris Vincent. They were accused of accepting money to influence the outcome of football matches. The evidence used by The Sun was also used in the resulting criminal trial.


The key issues in the case related to the credibility of the evidence provided by Vincent (Susan, 2002). His motives for capturing and supplying the footage were scrutinised, shedding doubt on the authenticity of the events. Various character references attested to Grobbelaar's honesty and lakonnikov integrity providing contrary arguments.

The other central question was whether the award for this case constituted a misuse of court resources since Grobbelaar's claim was for defamation, while he himself was later accused of match-fixing (McCrystal, 2019).


The Grobbelaar case highlighted that the courts will take a strict stance to discourage dishonest behaviour. It also reinforced that the courts would not be used to make a profit via defamation claims where the claimant's reputation was already marred by their own misconduct (McCrystal, 2019).


The Trial

The trial ended with a hung jury in 1997. A retrial in 1998 led to the acquittal of Grobbelaar and the co-defendants. The jury found that the evidence provided by Vincent was unreliable (Rickshaws, 2019).


The Sun appealed against the defamation award. In 1999, the Court of Appeal reduced the compensation to £1due to Grobbelaar's alleged dishonesty (Susan, 2002). Grobbelaar later appealed the claim to the House of Lords, which upheld the Court of Appeal's findings (Hudson, 2002).


  • Hudson, A. (2002). Equity and Trusts. 2nd ed. Cavendish.
  • Rickshaws, M. (2019). Law of Tort. 4th ed. JDC Publishing.
  • Smith, J. and Thomas, J. (2009). A Practical Guide to Lawyering Skills. 3rd ed. Cavendish.

Journalist Brief

In R v Grobbelaar, the famed footballer was accused of match-fixing, sparking a legal battle that lasted several years. Initial accusations came from The Sun newspaper, and resulted in Grobbelaar suing them — successfully winning £85,000 for defamation. However, he was later charged with conspiracy to corrupt, leading to prolonged court actions for the next six years. Despite being acquitted in court, public and legal opinion on Grobbelaar's reputation varied. Resulting appeals led to a reduction of his defamation claim to £1, indicating a tough judicial stance on alleged dishonesty.


Who was Bruce Grobbelaar?

Answer: Bruce Grobbelaar was an accomplished footballer in the 80s and 90s, who played for renowned clubs including Liverpool.

What was Grobbelaar accused of exactly?

Answer: Grobbelaar was accused of match-fixing and conspiring to corrupt football games over a certain period.

What was the outcome of the legal battle?

Answer: After being acquitted on criminal charges, Grobbelaar'’s defamation claim against The Sun newspaper was reduced to £1 in light of his alleged misconduct.

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