At last, a tiny piece of good news for free speech from England and Wales: the Defamation Act 2013 goes into effect tomorrow, and will make it substantially harder for rich, powerful people to sue their critics in the UK. The new law requires that plaintiffs show "serious harm" in order to bring a suit. It also protects academic and scientific publications (an important issue since the British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for publishing a critical scientific review of chiropractic). It adds a defense on the basis of a good-faith belief that publication is in the public interest.
Perhaps most importantly, it tightens up the "libel tourism" rules that allowed corrupt overseas dictators and oligarchs to sue news outlets based outside the UK in a UK court, merely by showing that someone in the UK read the disputed article; and it establishes a "single publication" rule to stop publishers from being sued multiple times over the same disclosure.
However, Northern Ireland has not adopted these reforms; English PEN's Jo Glanville points out that this creates a huge loophole for people who want to bring baseless libel claims in the UK -- they can just sue in an NI court.
Mike Harris, of the campaign, said: "The Defamation Act was intended by politicians to end the chill from the archaic libel laws of England and Wales.
"It's taken four years, support from 60,000 people and a cross-party consensus to get to where we are today.
"We hope the judiciary will take note, and that in the future open debate on matters in the public interest will not be chilled by litigious oligarchs or corporations."
He added: "The Defamation Act is good news for free speech.
"We hope it can be used as a template for reform of the law in other countries where all too often journalists and scientists find themselves fined huge sums for speaking out against corruption and malpractice," he said.
Defamation Act 2013 aims to improve libel laws
(Image: The Defamation Act 2013: Complete and Unabridged, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from robertsharp59's photostream)
Jack Dalrymple, the Republican governor of North Dakota, has ordered an “emergency evacuation” on the unceded treaty lands owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where protesters have endured potentially lethal, unconstitutional violence from law enforcement, including the use of water cannons as antipersonnel weapons in subzero temperatures and the use of tear-gas cannisters as […]
Ryan Shapiro, the punk Freedom of Information Access ninja, is crowdfunding a warchest to fund his inevitable lawsuits against the Trump government when he subjects it to the same relentless bombardment of transparency requests he visited upon the Obama administration.
Even though disgraced Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has left the building, his most outrageous legal theories live on: on Wednesday, the company filed a motion in a federal court in Utah seeking dismissal of a class action suit by the customers it defrauded — the bank argues that since customers sign a binding arbitration […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]