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Libertarian Alliance Statement on the New Defamation Act

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  • Dr Sean Gabb
    Libertarian Alliance Statement Contact Details: Dr Sean Gabb 07956 472 199, sean@libertarian.co.uk Thursday the 25th April 2013 For immediate use Libertarian
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25 1:16 PM
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      Libertarian Alliance Statement
      Contact Details: Dr Sean Gabb
      07956 472 199, sean@...
      Thursday the 25th April 2013
      For immediate use

      Libertarian Alliance Statement on the New Defamation Act

      Note: The Defamation Act 2013, signed into law on the 25th April 2013, reforms English libel law in the following ways:

      • Claimants will need to show actual or probable serious harm to their reputation from a published statement;
      • Corporate bodies will need to prove serious financial loss from a published statement;
      • The public interest defence is strengthened;
      • Website operators will not be held responsible for statements they did not themselves post;
      • There will be qualified privilege for academic claims;
      • The limitation period will now run for one year from first publication of a statement;
      • It will be harder for foreigners to bring libel actions in this country for statements only incidentially published here;

      Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, welcomed the new law. He said:

      "Anything is to be welcomed that makes it harder to bring and win a libel action. Many of the new law’s provisions – ie the serious harm test – may codify recent decisions of the courts. Even so, it is nice to see these set in stone, rather than subject to judicial drift. Also, it does seem as if Parliament has taken these decisions on their most liberal interpretation. Certainly, the single publication rule makes life easier for anyone who runs a blog or a website, as does the widening of the innocent dissemination rule. I’m glad to see that corporate bodies will be effectively barred from bringing libel actions, and that scientific and academic journals can no longer be scared by threats from wealthy interest groups.

      "I don’t like the abolition of trial by jury in libel actions. On the other hand, trial by jury is plainly being abolished in this country. Since all cases soon will by tried by judges sitting alone, or by panels of judges, we might as well have laws for them to apply that are not grossly oppressive.

      "Our Blogmaster and I will need to keep an eye on the meaning of the changed innocent dissemination rule. This will probably allow us to host more outspoken comments than we have so far welcomed. However, we might also have to require all members of our community to identify themselves to us. We shan’t welcome this, if it does become a requirement, and our compliance will be the absolute legal minimum. But we shall comply with what is required.

      "On balance – no, probably very much so – the new Defamation Act is an oddly liberalising law for the country and age in which we live. Of course, freedom of speech on public issues is more constrained than ever by the laws against “hate” speech; and we need to see what scheme of censorship will emerge from debates over the Levenson Report. But the Defamation Act is the first law I can remember for many years that does not merit our usual denunciation."

      Sean Gabb
      Director, The Libertarian Alliance (Carbon Positive since 1979)
      sean@... Tel: 07956 472 199 Skype: seangabb

      Postal Address: Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, London W1J 6HL, England

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      What would England and the world have been like in 1959 if there had been no Second World War? For one possible answer, read Sean Gabb's novel The Churchill Memorandum. If you like Bulldog Drummond and Biggles and the early James Bond, this will be right up your street. Or look here to see other books by Sean Gabb, or here to see books by Richard Blake.

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