Libel actions have the potential to open floodgates, or possibly, close them in cases where the claimant wins.
The suspending of next week's McCann .v. Goncala Amaral libel trial could well prove to be a turning point, in this saga. Negotiations are currently under way (though an agreement was reached last Friday) and the result will be known within 6 months.
I can't see it taking that long actually. They are due to face their English nemesis, Tony Bennett in Court on 5th and 6th February, less than two weeks away.
At that hearing, the Judge will be placed in an untenable position. What with potential floodgates, etc. If he decides that the Libel trial must be heard before he can making a ruling in this case, then the McCanns will have no option but to pursue the libel trial. Something I suspect, they have little appetite for.
The fact that they have not pursued the libel action against GA to the Court room, has the potential to unleash much that has thus far, remained under cover. Basically, those who felt threatened in the past, may now feel free to speak out as they have seen that the McCanns have backed down at the door of the Court. With social networking such as it is, this news cannot be hidden.
Speculating on the settlement. If it is in the mccanns favour, then GA must withdraw his book from sale - they can accept nothing less, if their case is not to be seen as vexatious. Far be it for me to give their desperate spinners any ideas, but they could take the compassionate stance, and say that 'enough is enough' - they simply want to withdraw from public attention and grieve. Of course, if they choose this route, it must also include dropping their action against Tony.
However, in both hypothetical situations, the settlement must include a gagging order against GA, if it doesn't, they have lost and floodgates could open.
Anyone with more than a passing interest in this case, would agree GA had the upper hand in this libel action, having succeeded in two higher Courts that have ruled the book is not libellous. He also has the support of the Portuguese public. Public opinion is vital, and the McCanns do not appear to have had any success in getting them back on side. The book didn't help.
Whoever it was, that made the decision to pursue the libel case against GA having lost two previous trials to get his book banned, must have been certifiable. But that is a whole other story.