Government shakes up defamation laws

dfsDefamation laws were reformed on January 1st, 2013 after a UK law review revealed these regulations may have a chilling effect on free speech.

The legislative changes apply across England and Wales and should support legitimate debate and freedom of expression. The laws implemented through the UK law review come through the Defamation Act 2013, which has enacted a ‘serious harm’ threshold, which cases must be brought passed if the defamed party is to seek compensation. This marks the first time UK defamation law has had such a threshold and should discourage claims that waste court time and harm free speech. Before the changes to UK law, scientists, academics, and journalists could find themselves threatened or taken to court after fairly criticizing an organization, product or person.

What does the Defamation Act 2013 include?

The government’s UK law review heard that previous defamation laws were unfair, costly and outdated, that they provided more support to rich organizations than to poor individual whistleblowers, and that they did not effectively protect freedom of speech. The new laws should be able to accomplish their goal of protecting people who have suffered unwarranted reputational damage without having an inordinate effect on free speech.

As a result of the legislative changes:

– Academics and scientists who publish peer-reviewed material in academic journals will be protected

– People who reasonably believe buy brand name priligy they are publishing material that is in the public interest will be protected

– A new process will enable people who believe they have been defamed online to resolve the dispute with the person they feel defamed them. This will improve standards of protection for web pages with user-generated content, provided they adhere to new regulations

– A single-publication law will be enacted that will prevent defamed parties from making several compensation claims against the same publisher and regarding the same defamatory material

– Secondary publishers, such as newsagents and booksellers, will receive better protection and will be protected from compensation claims if it is reasonably practicable for the aggrieved party to claim against the primary publisher

– Libel tourism will be prevented by improving the test for claims involving parties with no or little connection to Wales and England to occur in the countries’ courts

The legislative changes brought about through this UK law review will likely be warmly welcomed by journalists and others in the media, as this sector has been harshly critical of libel law and will be pleased that some of the problems with these laws have been ironed out.

Shailesh Vara, Justice Minister, said that the new measures will make it more difficult for rich individuals or companies to silence and bully people who criticize them fairly.

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