Very few of the new defences available in the Defamation Act 2013 have been extended to Scotland. Working in collaboration with journalists, academics and lawyers in Scotland, the Libel Reform Campaign is seeking to ensure that Edinburgh does not become a new haven for libel tourism."
The Libel Reform Campaign has submitted a detailed response to the Scottish Law Commission's consultation on the law of defamation.
— A public interest defence must be introduced into Scots Law
— A 'serious harm' test to discourage trivial and vexatious claims
— A 'single publication rule' and a revision on limitation periods for when pursuers can sue
— For-profit companies and other 'non-natural persons' should not be able to sue for defamation. If corporations are allowed to sue, that they should have to show financial loss before bringing a claim
— The Derbyshire case law that prevents public bodies from suing citizens for defamation should be put into statute
— A jurisidictional test to discourage 'libel tourism'
— Defences of truth and honest opinion should be set out clearly in statute
— The fair retort' defence should remain in Scots Law
— Alternative methods of dispute resolution should be incorporated into any reform
— Communication to a third party must be a requisite for a defamation action to be brought
— Qualified privilege should be extended to the reporting of international legislatures, courts and tribunals
— A presumption against expensive jury trials in defamation cases
The Scottish Law Commission's consultation on the Scots law of defamation closes on 17 June 2016. It is crucial that the law in Scotland is changed so that the new protections enjoyed by people in England & Wales, such as the 'serious harm' test, a public interest defence, and the measures to stop libel tourism, can be extended to the people of Scotland.
people have signed up
The Defamation Act 2013 must be extended to Scotland. Can you join us in Edinburgh on Thursday 17th July at 5 pm?
As you know, the Libel Reform Campaign led to the Defamation Act 2013 which introduced significant changes to the law of libel in England & Wales. The law now includes a 'serious harm' test, a new public interest defence, protections for web hosts, privilege for peer reviewed academic papers. Together, these reforms should expand the space for free expression in England & Wales.
Unfortunately, very few of these new provisions have been incorporated into Scottish law. This has left the people of Scotland with fewer free speech protections than their neighbours in England & Wales. We fear that this will result in the practice of libel tourism shifting from London to Edinburgh. Since publishers operate throughout the UK, an unreformed Scottish law has the potential to chill free speech everywhere in the United Kingdom, undermining the Defamation Act.
We are bringing together lawyers, journalists, bloggers, academics, authors and members of civil society who would lke to be involved in a campaign to bring libel reform to Scotland. We want to gather examples of the libel 'chill' where journalists, consumer groups or scientists in Scotland have been discouraged from publishing on matters in the public interest. We would love to see as many of you as possible there.