A libel suit launched by fast food giant McDonald's against a pair of London environmentalists opened in the High Court on Monday with a single judge hearing what was expected to be a lengthy case.
The court had earlier ruled that no jury was competent to hear the case because of the complicated issues involved.
McDonald's sued activists Dave Morris and Helen Steel after they distributed leaflets seeking to link its burgers and fries with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and food poisoning.
The leaflets also attacked the company's employment policies and the alleged environmental effects of some of its practices.
Morris, 39 and Steel, 28, are members of a group called London Greenpeace, which has no official connection with the international environmental group of the same name.
The pair, who are unemployed, will represent themselves.