Homework – Article Example
First Draft of Anti-Libel Tourism Law Revisions of Britains libel laws have been proposed in order to dissuade wealthy foreigners from seeking defamatory action in England and Wales.
The revisions propose that claimants prove “substantial harm” to their reputations before an action is considered defamatory. It introduces a new defence and replaces two others:
Responsible publication on matters of public interest;
Truth (replacing justification); and
Honest opinion (replacing fair comment).
But there are some criticisms of the proposed draft. Some of its revisions are accused of sticking new labels on old defences. The difference between honest opinion and fair comment is not yet entirely clear.
The law currently allows foreign parties to use British courts to sue each other over claims that would be baseless abroad. It also counts each individual viewing of an online article as a new, separate libel. Claimants do not have to show that the libel damaged their reputation, nor do they have to show significant damage in England.
The laws are so ridiculous that President Obama has declared their rulings invalid in the United States.
Although such cases rarely come to court, those that do stifle investigative journalism and legitimate scientific debate. They are prohibitively expensive for anyone other than the super-rich: “For too long our outdated libel laws have made it easy for the powerful and the wealthy to stifle fair criticism,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said.
The reform would remedy this situation but not solve it entirely. Rod Christie-Miller of the London law firm Schillings said, “The more laws you make, the more money lawyers make.”
The new law was originally suggested a year ago by Jack Straw, then defence secretary, on the understanding that Labour would win last Mays election. The new law should be enacted from March 15, 2012.