Key findings of the report

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In order to facilitate a thorough democratic debate about this crucial subject, we recommend that these measures should be incorporated in a Libel Bill, which would simplify the existing law, restore the balance between free speech and the protection of reputation, and reflect the impact of the internet on the circulation of ideas and information.

1. In libel, the defendant is guilty until proven innocent


We recommend: Require the claimant to demonstrate damage and falsity



2. English libel law is more about making money than saving a reputation


We recommend: Cap damages at £10,000



3. The definition of 'publication' defies common sense


We recommend: Abolish the Duke of Brunswick rule and introduce a single publication rule



4. London has become an international libel tribunal


We recommend: No case should be heard in this jurisdiction unless at least 10 per cent of copies of the relevant publication have been circulated here



5. There are few viable alternatives to a full trial


We recommend: Establish a libel tribunal as a low-cost forum for hearings



6. There is no robust public interest defence in libel law


We recommend: Strengthen the public interest defence



7. Comment is not free


We recommend: Expand the definition of fair comment



8. The potential cost of defending a libel action is prohibitive


We recommend: Cap base costs and make success fees and 'After the Event' (ATE) insurance premiums non-recoverable



9. The law does not reflect the arrival of the internet


We recommend: Exempt interactive online services and interactive chat from liability



10. Not everything deserves a reputation


We recommend: Exempt large and medium-sized corporate bodies and associations from libel law unless they can prove malicious falsehood