Draft Defamation Bill and Consultation

March 15, 2011

While the draft Defamation Bill has a wide range of proposals, one topic will particularly excite the interest of SCL members – the proposals relating to online publication and defamation. The draft Bill, which can be read in full here, proposes the introduction of a single publication rule to prevent an action being brought in relation to publication of the same material by the same publisher after a one year limitation period has passed. It also includes ‘action to address libel tourism by ensuring a court will not accept jurisdiction unless satisfied that England and Wales is clearly the most appropriate place to bring an action against someone who is not domiciled in the UK or an EU Member State’. 

Matters of relevance to IT lawyers which are not covered by the draft Bill but are put forward for consultation include the question of responsibility for publication on the Internet. The consultation paper seeks views on whether the law should be changed to give greater protection to secondary publishers such as internet service providers, and discussion forums or how the existing law should be updated and clarified. The consultation questionnaire can be accessed here.