Monday, February 1, 2010

They have noticed the problem

It would appear that the powers that be have noticed that there is a problem or two with Britain's libel laws and, more specifically, the habit of libel tourism about which this blog and EUReferendum has written repeatedly. (Which means that we may well have contributed a tiny amount to the powers that be noticing the problem.)

On Wednesday, a Written Statement was published in both Hansards, though true to my usual habit I am quoting from the Lords' one.
In response to concerns about the possibility that our libel laws are having a chilling effect on freedom of expression, the Government have set up a working group to examine issues relating to the substantive law on libel.

The terms of reference of this group are "to consider whether the law of libel, including the law relating to libel tourism, in England and Wales needs reform, and if so to make recommendations as to solutions". A list of members of the working group is attached.

The scope of the group's considerations will extend to all aspects of substantive libel law in England and Wales, but will exclude issues relating to costs in defamation proceedings, where work is already underway. The working group is intended to have an intensive, short term focus and has been requested to make recommendations by mid-March.
There follows a list of members though not anything remotely resembling a time table to which the group might adhere. It will need careful watching.

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