(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”.
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
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
First Reading in Commons – May 2012