Appeals judges in Northern Ireland have overturned an unprecedented libel verdict in which a pizzeria owner successfully sued a Belfast newspaper over a rotten review.

Northern Ireland Chief Justice Brian Kerr ruled that a Belfast jury erred in law last year when it awarded $50,000 to the owner of the Goodfellas pizza restaurant in west Belfast. A 2000 review in the Irish News had deemed his restaurant smoky, sloppy and unappetizing.

Kerr said the jury failed to consider whether the reviewer demonstrated malice, and would have been likely to rule in the newspaper's favor if the original trial judge had instructed them correctly.

Irish News editor Noel Doran said the original verdict threatened the ability of newspapers to publish reviews throughout the United Kingdom.

The restaurant owner, Ciaran Convery, vowed to launch another lawsuit.