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Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014

The Defamation Act of 2013 - http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/defamation.html - comes into force at midnight tonight (31st December 2013)

"The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute."

In particular, it's said to be trying to allow more comment to be made on blogs, forums and other social media without fear of reactions from the person / people / companies who feel critisized to excess and with disproportionate effect - "I don't like what you said, so I'll make life very difficult for you..." - in other words to improve 'freedom of speech'. It's also said to be removing the ability for libels committed outside the UK to be tried here - cutting down on or out on "libel tourism".

Key areas ... the bill / law

* includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation
* removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial
* introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"
* provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned
* introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.

More from this at the BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-2555164

Claimants will have to show they have suffered "serious harm" before suing, under the Defamation Act 2013.

The changes - coming in on 1 January - will also address "libel tourism".

The government said the law would reverse the "chilling effect" current libel laws have had on freedom of expression and legitimate debate.

Journalists, scientists and academics have faced unfair legal threats for fairly criticising a company, person or product in the past, the Ministry of Justice said.

It said the Act, in force from Wednesday, would provide "clearer, better protection for people publicly expressing opinions", while campaigners said it was "good news for free speech" but urged Northern Ireland to follow suit.


Please note - I am not a legal expert and I post this information to make readers aware of the thrust of the changes. You should not rely on what I've written to be the complete or accurate story, but rather should check individual circumstances with a professional adviser.
(written 2013-12-31, updated 2014-01-03)

 
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Sharing my personal best of 2013
Some other Articles
A Question series posed to Melksham Tourist information
Why the long gap?
Using Python to analyse last years forum logs. Good coding practise discussion.
Sharing my personal best of 2013
Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014
Open for the new year - Imber
Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy
Well House Consultants - Public Training Course times for 2014
Well House Consultants - course prices for 2014
Thin end of the wedge - plan to be thicker in 2014
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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