After an amendment was tabled according to which two key sections of the defamation bill have to be removed, the reform of UK defamation law is again threatened.
Three years after the libel reform campaigners started working the defamation bill is about to become a law.
Sir Edward Garnier, a Tory MP and libel lawyer pleaded that two aspects of the bill have to be removed. If the bill stands as it is now, individuals or public authority would not have the chance to sue for libel over criticism, which means that journalists and bloggers would criticize local authorities with no fear. Is it as bad as it sounds by the way? The Legal Stop will not criticise any authority, as all we want to do is to provide you with the required legal documents. For that reason we launched the “request a document” service.
In 1993 after Derbyshire Council unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Times newspaper “the Derbyshire Principle”was established.
Due to another clause companies would have to prove what the financial damages of the company after this written criticism were, otherwise they would not have the right to bring libel claims against journalists and bloggers.
If the suggestion of Sir Edward is accepted both of these clauses will be removed from the bill.
People who have worked on the bill are against the amendment proposed by Sir Edward.
One of the men involved in the genesis of the bill, Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, shared his view that Derbyshire Principle clause has to be preserved by all means.
According to freedom of speech groups Sense and Science and English PEN financial loss has to be proved before companies are being allowed to sue for libel.
Last month when Lord Puttnam tabled an amendment to add a recommendation on press ethics to the bill, the government would have almost thrown out the entire bill.
This amendment, however, was removed.