What is So Fair as a Libel Suit in May?

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“Next time you visit London,” we wrote back in 2009, “if you have an hour or two after visiting London Bridge, Westminster Palace and Big Ben, drop by a solicitor’s office and sue someone for libel. It will more than pay for the cost of your vacation.” We were describing the infamous British libel laws that merely require a plaintiff to show that a statement harms his reputation and put the burden of disproof on the defendant to show that his allegations were not libelous. This has made London a breeding ground for libel lawsuits. Can’t Sue for Libel in the US? Take Your Beef to Britain, Libel Capital of the World

This legal travesty may at long last be reversed. A bill is making its way through Britain’s Parliament “is intended to abolish costly trials by jury in most libel cases, curb online defamation through a new notice and takedown procedure, reduce so-called ‘libel tourism’ and make it more difficult for large corporations to sue newspapers.”

Not just newspapers: “The bill will rebalance the law to ensure that people who have been defamed are able to protect their reputation, but that free speech and freedom of expression are not unjustifiably impeded by actual or threatened libel proceedings,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice.

Details in Queen’s speech launches overhaul of libel law (guardian.co.uk)

Richard Curtis


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