Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jack Straw: update on libel reform

British libel law, a sedition law for millionaires, as it's been called, is under review. Read what Jack Straw, UK Secretary of State for Justice, had to say here; and read what the Libel Reform movement had to say in response, here. Some snippets:
  • our libel laws are stacked in favour of claimants, of 154 libel proceedings in 2008 identified in the Jackson Review (of 259 taken to the High Court), 0 were won by defendants. The most expensive libel action cost £3,243,980 and the average cost for the 20 most expensive trials was £753,676.95.
  • The average cost of a libel trial in England & Wales is 140 times the European equivalent.
  • Media companies are becoming ever less likely to fight libel cases to a verdict, in 2008 61% of libel proceedings were settled by a “statement in an open court” this has risen from 21% in 2004.
  • As the recession has deepened increasingly corporations are suing each other in a ‘race to the bottom’ to bolster their public profiles, the number of libel cases involving a business suing another business tripled last year.
  • In a survey of 600 GPs, half believed that English libel law was “‘restricting open discussion of the potential risks of drug treatment”.
Time to stop this support for Britain's City of London.

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