Libel claimants will have to prove substantial harm for case to be heard, proposes reform

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 17 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1747
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

Sweeping reforms to the libel laws of England and Wales to curb “libel tourism,” simplify the law, and reduce its chilling effect on free speech and scientific debate have been unveiled by the UK government in a draft bill.

The draft defamation bill will require would be libel claimants to prove substantial harm to their reputation before a case can go ahead. At present they need only show that a statement was defamatory—likely to lower them in the estimation of right thinking people.

London has become known as the libel capital of the world, allowing claimants to launch actions with tenuous links to the United Kingdom. The bill provides that the English courts will not be able …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial