Libel Reform Resources for Defamation Bill 2012

(This is a resource page in development – suggested additions and comments welcome.)

Part A – The Current Law

The law of defamation is based on ‘common law’.  This means that it not provided for by statute but is ultimately grounded on case law.  That said, the law of defamation has been greatly modified by the 1952 and 1996 Defamation Acts.  The procedure for threatening and bringing defamation claims is set out in the “pre-action protocol”.

Defamation Act 1952

Defamation Act 1996

Pre-action Protocol for Defamation Claims

Part B – The Background to Reform

The modern movement for reform of the law of defamation is associated with the campaign which supported Simon Singh in defending the misconceived and illiberal libel claim brought by the (now discredited) British Chiropractic Association from 2008 to 2010.  The campaign was transformed by the charity Sense About Science (and English Pen and Index on Censorship) into a broader demand for libel reform via “the Libel Reform Campaign“.  All three main political parties committed to defamation reform in their 2010 general election manifestos.

Libel Reform Campaign Report: Free Speech Is Not For Sale

Lord Lester’s draft Defamation Bill 2010 – debated in Lords July 2010

Ministry of Justice consultation on defamation bill – March to June 2011

Joint Parliamentary Committee established for consideration of draft defamation bill – April 2011

Joint Parliamentary Committee report on draft defamation bil- October 2011

Ministry of Justice response to consultation – November 2011

Ministry of Justice response to Joint Parliamentary Committee report – March 2012

Part C – Defamation Bill 2012

Defamation Bill announced in Queens Speech 2012

The Parliamentary website page for tracking progress of the Defamation Bill

Defamation Bill as presented on First Reading

Explanatory Notes to Defamation Bill presented on First Reading

First Reading in Commons – May 2012