Defamation Act 2009
14.— (1) The court, in a defamation action, may give a ruling—
(a) as to whether the statement in respect of which the action was brought is reasonably capable of bearing the imputation pleaded by the plaintiff, and
(b) (where the court rules that that statement is reasonably capable of bearing that imputation) as to whether that imputation is reasonably capable of bearing a defamatory meaning,
upon an application being made to it in that behalf.
(2) Where a court rules under subsection (1) that—
(a) the statement in respect of which the action was brought is not reasonably capable of bearing the imputationpleaded by the plaintiff, or
(b) that any imputation so pleaded is not reasonably capable of bearing a defamatory meaning,
it shall dismiss the action in so far only as it relates to the imputation concerned.
(3) An application under this section shall be brought by notice of motion and shall be determined, in the case of a defamation action brought in the High Court, in the absence of the jury.
(4) An application under this section may be brought at any time after the bringing of the defamation action concerned includingduring the course of the trial of the action.