New English draft Libel Law
Posted on 9:03pm Tuesday 15th Mar 2011
England Unveils New Draft Libel Laws
Sweeping reforms to stop corporations from using their financial power to bring libel actions against their critics were announced today under plans to promote free speech.
The changes aim to end the “ inequality of arms” between big companies and individuals. The Justice Secretary wants to make it harder to bring defamation cases and simplify court processes to reduce the cost for defendants.
A new “public interest” defence will also be introduced to strengthen the position of people who raise concerns about malpractice or dangerous products.
Other changes will require defamation claimants to prove that they suffered “substantial harm” to win an action and create a new defence of “honest opinion” to further strengthen the rights of those who speak out.
The reforms contained in a draft Defamation Bill published on 15th March 2011, follow criticisms of the way that libel laws have been used to stifle debate. The Justice Secretary said the threat of costly actions had had “ a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate, and investigative journalism.”
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