Revising Britain’s Libel Laws.

The petition has been approved and is ready to be signed – just follow the link…

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/libellaws/ (it does help if I put the bloody link in as well)

To be clear about what kind of things I am advocating when I suggest that we adopt US-style libel laws.

A reversal of the existing presumption of guilt and burden of proof in libel, such the plaintiff is required to demonstrate that that they have been libelled. At present, the plaintiff in a libel action has only to prove only that the defendent made the allegedly libellous statement, from which point it is the defendent who must supply proof that the statement is not libellous.

The inclusion of the US provisions that hold that a public figure may be held to have been libelled only where the libellous statement was made with what, in the US, is refered to as ‘actual malice’, i.e. that it was made knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard for the truth.

THe inclusion of a form of ‘Common Carrier’ status for blog owners, online forums, etc., i.e. a blogger or forum owner may not be held liable for libellous comments posted on their by a third party provided that they act reasonably on receiving a complaint that such a comment constitutes a libel.

And end to the ‘viral’ nature of libel in the UK, in which every publication of a defamatory statement gives rise to a separate claim. US law permits only a single claim for primary publication.

  • kewl, I’ve signed – just waiting on my email link now.

  • I’ve signed it, but it seems to be taking a lot longer than normal for them to send the confirmation email…

  • Maybe the confirmation e-mails have to be lawyered before they get sent out… 🙂

  • Finally got the confirmation email – more than 2 hr after signing the petition!

  • douglas clark

    I’ve signed up too, although I thought you’re just after telling me that this is a nonsense and a complete waste of time 😉

  • Niels

    Note they’ve found problems when using Hotmail to confirm.

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  • Your understanding of the current law is entirely lacking.

    Whether or not a statement is by its nature capable of being libellous is a matter of law, decided by the judge. There is no presumption either way.

    The claimant does not need to prove that the statement is untrue. If the defendant does show that it is true, that is a complete defence (except in the bizarre case that one questions a woman’s virginity.)