Senior judge reminds judges that they can strike out trivial libel claims

Written by Robert Sharp
January 02, 2014
Category: England & Wales

The Libel Reform Campaign and the MPs and Peers who led the campaign in the Houses of Parliament have always called for laws that would mean libel cases get resolved as quickly and cheaply as possible. We called for mandatory strike out of trivial libel claims to be part of the Defamation Act. Strike out is when a court looks at a claim, decides there is no case to answer and therefore doesn’t allow the case to proceed or throws the case out. It did not make it into the Act. The Alternative Libel Project called for Alternaitive Dispute Resolutuion (ADR) to be part of the law, but that didn't make it in. The Minister for Justice Lord McNally told us that this is because power to strike out claims and to encourage the use of ADR already exist in the Civil Procedure Rules, the rules for judges on how cases must be handled. He asked the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson to respond to our calls. Lord Dyson said today that "there alredy exists a formidable array of powers which judges can use to achieve these goals" and that early resolution of every lilbel case should always be a judge's aim. Read theMaster of the Rolls’ statement here.

The Master of the Rolls is the second most senior judge in England and Wales and is the Head of Civil Justice. Defamation law is part of civil law. The new libel laws came into effect on New Year’s Day.