Thursday, 16 January 2014

Mike Harris speaks of the urgency to reform Northern Ireland libel laws

The Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship Mike Harris (@mjrharris) wrote an overview of the Defamation Act 2013 which came into effect in England and Wales on January 1 2014 (government press release here) on the Inforrm blog here. The new speech and communication law considerably strengthens the position of the publisher, journalist and the internet user. Of interest: tweets sent after January 1 will be required to meet the higher thresholds set out in the Defamation Act 2013.

Mike Harris said of the situation in Northern Ireland:
"Of particular urgency is the situation in Northern Ireland where libel sceptics have won the day with the Northern Ireland Executive blocking the application of the new Defamation Act to the province. The Department for Finance and Personnel refuses to comment on the basis of “confidentiality” as to why it had not been able to secure the “necessary consents” for the Defamation Bill within the required timescale. The Libel Reform Campaign hopes to help the Northern Ireland Law Commission with their forthcoming consultation on the libel law and will be campaigning to ensure the Executive revisits this issue to create a law that can be a progressive blueprint for other common law jurisdictions."

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