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Committee in UK Parliament Seek Reform of Defamation Law and Government Intervention

The Joint Committee on the Draft Defamation Bill today publishes its report on defamation law and welcomes many of the reforms proposed in the draft Bill.

Chairman, Rt Hon. Lord Mawhinney said:

“Defamation proceedings are far too expensive, which is a barrier to all but the richest. Our recommendations should help minimise the reliance on expensive lawyers and the courts, bringing defamation action into the reach of ordinary people who find themselves needing to protect their reputation or defend their right to freedom of speech. They are based upon firm principles, which I am sure the Government will support.”    

The unanimously-agreed report proposes many detailed amendments to the defences available against libel claims, mainly designed to strike a fairer balance between the protection of reputation and freedom of speech. For example, greater protection is proposed for scientists and academics writing in peer-reviewed articles and for publishers in reporting on their debates at conferences.

Key problems

The report argues that the Government’s proposals do not do enough to address the key problems in defamation law – the “unacceptably” high costs which make access to justice difficult for many.  The committee proposes a series of reforms aimed at ensuring that disputes are generally resolved rapidly by mediation or arbitration, rather than via the courts.

For entire article see: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-defamation-bill1/news/publication-report/