PAST EVENT: 12 June: The Defamation Act and next steps for Libel Reform

Event coverage: Libel Act to commence “before end of year” | Lord Lester slams Leveson royal charter

Date: 12 June 2013 6:30-8 pm
Venue: Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA, United Kingdom
Tickets: Free but space is limited. Email [email protected] if you’d like to attend.

The Libel Reform Campaign was launched at the Free Word Centre in November 2009 by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science. During the course of the campaign, Free Word has been proud to host key campaign events, from policy briefings to parties.

Join the Libel Reform Campaign team and Members of Parliament on 12th June to celebrate the passage of the Defamation Act 2013, and discuss what is next for Libel Reform, in the UK and internationally.

One response to “PAST EVENT: 12 June: The Defamation Act and next steps for Libel Reform”

  1. Loverat says:

    So – I see the priorities for Libel Reform are Northern Ireland, online regulation and reducing costs.

    That is a reasonable list of priorities I suppose and a fair amount has been achieved. However I think a very big concern going forward is the management of some cases by the judiciary and the arbitrary nature of some very recent decisions.

    I have stated before that before the law was passed there had been a vast improvement in the handling of meritless cases. These cases were dismissed early and the judges considered all the relevant factors together. It was held that defamatory statements might have been made but the costs of pursuing them outweighed any further vindication which could be achieved. In other words there was a threshold of seriousness and reference to proportionality and CPR was made regularly to justify decisions.

    Imagine therefore the shock at the outcome in Sally Bercow. It seems she has been hung to dry simply because she is universally disliked. Has no one else in Libel Reform actually sat down and looked at this case and compared it with others which have involved multiple publications and defendants? It seems not because any libel lawyer who knows the basics and who has studied the correct and clear guidance would have realised the outcome is clearly wrong in law and wholly inconsistent with other outcomes. You cannot proceed with cases which involve multiple publications and numerous potential defendants in the one dimensional way this case proceeded. It is so obvious.

    Has the decision on meaning (probably correct if stretching it legally and technically) fooled and distracted everyone from the wider context and into thinking the overall outcome of this case is correct? It seems so and the comments from legal commentators in response to that case have been amazingly uninformed and one sided.

    That I am afraid is one thing which puzzles me about the Libel Reform Campaign. Yes – you win some and lose some and you choose your battles. However, Libel Reform seems to have been selective too and overlooked the cases which really have shaped developements and thinking over the last few years and has inexplicably remained silent on the one case which may mark the return to the dark ages of libel.

    Cases which involve multiple publications and defendants will increase hugely in the future – in part due to the Sally Bercow outcome and the appalling message it sends out to libel claimants. That will put back the clock and reverse some of the good work and achievements to date.

    That is why a new libel reform group in launching later this year (early Autumn) to campaign to highlight the distinction and special considerations (which is clear guidance in libel cases anyway) which has to be made in these cases but is being ignored in selective cases.

    Remember – you heard it hear first.