Skip to content

Libel reform stalls in United Kingdom

Post categories

  1. Libel and Privacy
Plans for libel law reform in the United Kingdom have been put on hold until the next general election, The…

Plans for libel law reform in the United Kingdom have been put on hold until the next general election, The Independent reported.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw previously recommended an overhaul of Britain’s libel laws after a study found the rules had a "chilling effect" on freedom of expression, but Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman said the plan would need to be reintroduced by the next government after the upcoming election.

A House of Commons committee last week removed a particular provision that would have reduced the profits of lawyers who file libel claims against the media. Currently, attorneys there operate under conditional fee arrangements — where they only recover fees if a case is won — that bring in twice their normal fees. Free speech and media advocates say the practice makes costs in defamation and privacy cases prohibitively expensive and supported the plan to reduce conditional fee additions from 100 to 10 percent.

Among the additional suggested changes that have been sidelined were a libel defense for "responsible journalism" and provisions aimed to curb libel tourism.