Archive for the ‘Defamation Act 2011’ Category

McAlpine v. Bercow and a New Era of ‘Twitter Chill’

May 24, 2013

The decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat in McAlpine v Bercow [2013] EWHC 1342 (QB) (24 May 2013) ["McAlpine"]  is a stern admonition to Twitter users about the perils of practising comedy without a license.

Seriously, in my view, the UK court’s  judgment will have a chilling effect on free speech on Twitter and will likely devolve into an era of social media self-censorship for Twitter users, particularly in the UK. A form of libel chill, or, perhaps “Twitter Chill”.

It also highlights the legal chasm that exists between the American and UK judicial approaches to balancing freedom of expression and protecting reputation. The decision also raises the spectre of a “popularity metric” to determine whether the alleged maker or republisher of the defamatory tweet has gazillions of followers or is just some shlub with 4 followers, three of which are porn bots. (more…)

Lord McAlpine and Twitter Libel: Does failing to sue when a libel is first published raise a defence of waiver, estoppel or acquiescence?

November 20, 2012

The recent media scandal involving British peer, Lord McAlpine (pictured above) who threatened to sue the BBC, ITV and thousands of Twitter users over false accusations of pedophilia is discussed over at Inforrm’s Blog: (more…)

Lili Levi, “The Problem of Trans-National Libel”

September 28, 2012

Lili Levi (University of Miami – School of Law) has published “The Problem of Trans-National Libel”, American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. LX, No. 2, Spring 2012/ University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-25. Here’s the abstract:

Forum shopping in trans-national libel cases “libel tourism”­ has a chilling effect on journalism) academic scholarship) and scientific criticism. The United States and Britain (the most popular venue for such cases) have recently attempted to address the issue legisla­tively. In 2070) the United States passed the SPEECH Act) which prohibits recognition and enforcement of libel judgments from juris­dictions applying law less speech-protective than the First Amendment. In Britain) consultation has closed and the Parliamentary Joint Committee has issued its report on a broad-ranging libel reform bill proposed by the Government in March 2011. This Article questions the extent to which the SPEECH Act and the Draft Defama­tion Bill will accomplish their stated aims. The SPEECH Act provides little protection for hard-hitting investigative and accountability jour­nalism by professional news organizations with global assets. The proposed British bill has important substantive limits. Moreover) even if Parliament approves reform legislation discouraging libel tourism) such actions may shift to other claimant-friendly jurisdictions. Global harmonization of libel law is neither realistic nor desirable. Instead this Article proposes a two-fold approach. On the legal front, it supports the liberalizations of Britain’s proposed libel reform legislation and calls for foreign courts) when assessing the significance of contacts to the forum in cases affecting the United States) to consider seriously the importance of extensive First Amendment protections for political speech to the American concept of democracy. In addition) the Article calls for voluntary initiatives such as: 1) new approaches to help defend trans-national defamation claims when they are brought; and 2) measures to reduce the number of trans-national libel cases by improving the way in which the press does its job. The defense measures explored include the development of community-funded (rather than media-supported) libel defense funds; the formation of pro bono libel review consortia; and alternative approaches to increasing the availability of libel insurance. The recommended press-improvement measures include expanded access to documents, as well as the enhancement of accountability measures such as best-practices education, journalistic self-criticism, and updated codes of conduct.

A copy of the article is available for download via SSRN here.

 

 

 

Why Having Blogger and WordPress Police the Internet Is A Bad Idea

November 30, 2011
US Federal Protective Service Police officer w...

Image via Wikipedia

Over at Inforrm’s Blog, Gervase de Wilde comments on the recent UK High Court decision of HHJ Parkes QC in Davison v Habeeb ([2011] EWHC 3031 (QB)) dated 25 November 2011 [“Davison”] involving online intermediary liability and jurisdictional issues in UK defamation actions.

In this post, I will briefly address the broader implications of online regulation and intermediary liability.  (more…)

Lili Levi, “The Problem of Trans-National Libel”

April 6, 2011

Lili Levi (University of Miami – School of Law) has posted “The Problem of Trans-National Libel”, University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-11. Here’s the abstract:

Forum shopping in trans-national libel cases – “libel tourism” – has a chilling effect on journalism, academic scholarship, and scientific criticism. The United States and Britain (the most popular venue for such cases) have recently attempted to address the issue legislatively. In 2010, the U.S. passed the SPEECH Act, which prohibits recognition and enforcement of libel judgments from jurisdictions applying law less protective than the First Amendment. On March 15, 2011, the British Ministry of Justice proposed a draft Defamation Act 2011 with provisions designed, inter alia, to discourage libel tourism. This Article questions the extent to which the SPEECH Act and the proposed Defamation Act 2011 will accomplish their stated aims. The SPEECH Act provides little protection for hard-hitting investigative and accountability journalism by professional news organizations with global assets. The proposed British bill has important substantive limits and, controversial in Britain, may well not be adopted. Even if Parliament approves it, the site of libel tourism may shift to other claimant-friendly jurisdictions. Global harmonization of libel law is neither realistically feasible nor desirable. Instead, this Article proposes a two-fold approach. On the legal front, it supports the procedural focus of Britain’s proposed bill, but also calls for foreign courts to apply a governmental interest analysis to choice of law in trans-national defamation cases threatening core political speech in the United States. On the policy front, it calls for: 1) measures to improve the way in which the press does its job in order to reduce the number of trans-national libel cases; and 2) new approaches to help defend the claims when they are brought. The recommended press-improvement measures include expanded access to, and efficient use of, documents, journalistic self-criticism, and best-practices education. The defense measures explored include the development of alternative, community-based support for libel defense funds; the formation of pro bono libel review consortia; and the promotion of the availability of libel insurance by means designed to help insurers more accurately assess libel risk.

A copy of the working paper may be downloaded from SSRN here.


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