Libel reforms are inadequate, conference hears

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 13 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3027
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

The UK government’s plans for reform of the libel laws in England and Wales will do little to tackle the high costs and delays that are the real causes of the chilling effect on free speech, say experts in libel.

The proposals will not reduce the ability of claimants to use bullying tactics to deter the publication of material that should be published in the public interest, lawyers argued at a meeting on the government’s draft Defamation Bill held by the Westminster Legal Policy Forum, a cross government forum aimed at raising debate on legal policy.

The bill amends the substantive law, but media lawyers said that what is really needed was reform of libel procedures that …

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