Lord Justice Leveson‖s personal view as expressed in the report
that if no approved regulator isestablished, or if a significant publisher remains outside this regime, then Parliament should move tobring in statutory regulation.
The threat is reinforced through the measures in the Government‖s
Royal Charter to ensure that the recognition commission must report to Parliament, after a year, if either of these two situations exist. As a consequence this approach to press regulation amounts tocoercion
the process is to force force publishers to join up to an approved regulatory body.Whether the new system is voluntary or not is important for several reasons.
Firstly, a new, approved regulator will have a standards code that addresses issues of conduct, privacy and accuracy. This is the first sign of content regulation. If participation inthe regulatory body is truly voluntary, this is not problematic. The participants wouldvoluntarily be holding themselves to particular standards which may include ethicalconsiderations, but if participation is de facto compulsory publishers would be required tomeet standards imposed on them other than by law.
Secondly, an approved regulator will be able to impose significant fines (of up to £1m) anddirect or require the placement of corrections and apologies. To be forced to join such aregulator would have a clear impact on the right to free speech.
Thirdly, membership of the body
and use of its arbitration scheme
must be voluntary tocomply with article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Crime and Courts Act 2013
Under s.34 of the Crime and Courts Act, exemplary damages may be awarded by the court against arelevant publisher if it does not subscribe to an approved regulator, if it is found liable in respect of a media-related claim, if the claimant has asked for such damages to be awarded and if
“the court is satisfied t
(a) the defendant‖s conduct has shown a deliberate or reckless disregard of an outrageousnature for the claimant‖s rights,
(b) the conduct is such that the court should punish the defendant for it, and(c) other remedies would not be adequate to puni
sh that conduct.”
Volume 4, Part K, Chapter 8, Para 7.3
s.34(6) Crime and Courts Act 2013