Monday, 9 December 2013

The Defamation Act 2013 will come into full force in E & W on January 1 2014

The Defamation Act 2013 (Commencement)(England and Wales) Order and the Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013 were made on December 2 2013. The Defamation Act 2013 will come into force in England and Wales on 1 January 2014. After that date it will apply to causes of action “accrued”, i.e. to libels published from 1 January 2014 onwards.

The new libel law was vetoed by Stormont. Mike Nesbitt has proposed a Bill, its consultation is complete and is now been put before the Law Commission NI by the Finance Minister Simin Hamilton. 

In the Financial Times, Feargus O’Sullivan said
"Although Ms Bercow’s tweet would still fall foul of current laws, the situation may nonetheless change somewhat when the Defamation Act 2013 comes into force. It may become harder for the injured party of a perceived social network libel to seek legal redress. Courts will require proof of “serious harm” to reputation before a case can proceed. The act provides a statutory defence of “publication on matter of public interest”. It also makes defences of “truth and honest opinion” statutory. The reform is probably for the best. No one really wants social networks where users feel at risk of legal action for expressing a negative but honest personal opinion, and it is helpful to have the law simply expressed in a statute that is easily accessible.
Initial comments via Inforrm blog here

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