Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Reforming Libel - What Must a Defamation Bill achieve

Reforming Libel - What Must a Defamation Bill achieve

Ratings: (0)|Views: 201 |Likes:
Published by English PEN
On 9 July, following publication of a Private Member's Bill by Lord Lester, the coalition government promised to change the law to protect freedom of speech. A draft bill will be published in January 2011. What must it achieve?
On 9 July, following publication of a Private Member's Bill by Lord Lester, the coalition government promised to change the law to protect freedom of speech. A draft bill will be published in January 2011. What must it achieve?

More info:

Published by: English PEN on Dec 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

07/10/2013

pdf

text

original

 
Reforming Libel
What must a Defamation Bill achieve?
The Libel Reform Campaign
www.libelreform.org
 
Reforming Libel
What must a Defamation Bill achieve?
English libel law is notoriously expensive, complicated and out o date. It isstiing public debate and reedom o expression and is among the most restrictivedeamation laws in the world.The poor protection or ree speech under the current law chills discussion o historicalbiographies, medical research, human rights abuse and raud. Rich organisations canexploit the lack o protection or ree speech in a battle against a lone writer, journalor NGO and use our libel laws to orce retractions o material they simply don’t like.So citizens pay a high price or a law that protects the wealthy and powerul romcriticism, but does little or people whose reputations are genuinely damaged.The UN Human Rights Committee, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee,the US Congress and a specially convened Ministry o Justice Working Group underthe last Government have all ound that English libel law damages ree expressionand scientic enquiry.Over 50,000 people have signed the petition or libel reorm, supported by themajority o eligible MPs in the last Parliament. The three main political partiesbacked our campaign’s call or reorm in their general election maniestos.
On 9 July, following publication of a Defamation Bill by Lord Lester the coalitiongovernment promised to change the law to protect freedom of speech. There willbe a draft Bill by January 2011.
While writers, publishers, NGOs, human rights lawyers, clinicians, academics andperormers have emphasised diferent problems with the law’s chilling efects, all areagreed that:
A. Rebalancing our libel laws to protect free expression will require fundamentalchanges to the law.
The piecemeal reorms o the past century have only made the legislation morecomplex, inaccessible and expensive, while ailing to address the undamental lacko protection or ree speech.
B. Our libel laws are a matter for Parliament as well as the courts.
Libel laws are o constitutional importance. In libel, the common law has notdeveloped a reliable protection or ree speech nor kept pace with modern
The Libel Reform Campaign
 
www.libelreform.org
publishing and the internet age. Statutory legislation is an opportunity orParliament to set out a ramework o principles to protect ree speech, which areclear and accessible to all parties and within which the courts can apply the law on acase-by-case basis.
C. Reforms to the law to protect free speech must include:1. A public interest defence.
There is a proound public interest in reedom oexpression, which is a undamental right set out in the European Convention onHuman Rights. Freedom o expression is vital or ensuring political accountability,or advancing understanding and or achieving personal ullment. This is notbecause everything that people say is true, but because an open society tendstowards noisy imperection more than silence and the public interest is sometimesbest served by the publication o uncertain inormation. A clear statutory publicinterest deence in cases where the author has acted responsibly, according to thetype o publication, would curb the chilling efect o libel laws and lead to casesbeing resolved quickly.
2. Restrictions on corporate and public bodies.
 In the spirit o a law that protectscitizens and the rights o citizen critics, corporate bodies and associations should beable to sue only i they have grounds to believe that the publisher or writer has beenreckless or malicious. As with current case law, government bodies should also notbe able to sue or libel.
3. Bringing the law up to date.
The denition o publication in English libel lawdoesn’t reect the age o global communication and the internet. Each newspapersold or website hit is a resh libel. This multiple publication rule dates back to 1849and should be replaced with a single publication rule. The innocent disseminationo material and comment by internet service providers, orum hosts and similarentities should be exempted rom libel.
4. Simplifying and strengthening existing defences.
Free speech is protectedby complex deences that ew deendants and claimants understand. Reports and judgements have criticised the absence o a clear distinction between act andopinion, describing the “air comment” deence as overly technical and o limitedvalue. The new Bill should simpliy the deence and update the deences o statutoryand qualied privilege, in line with proposals in Lord Lester’s Bill, so that writersand publishers know in what circumstances they are protected.These changes, along with requiring claimants to prove they have a substantialreputation in the UK, should end ‘libel tourism’, where the rich and powerul useEnglish law to silence criticism in their own countries, and also serve to reduce costs.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->