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News - 3 January 2014

Changes to libel and slander law

The Defamation Act 2013 came into force on 1st January 2014.

The numerous changes made under the Act are designed to provide clearer, better protection for people publicly expressing opinions.

Changes made under the Act include:

  • Protection for scientists and academics publishing peer reviewed material in scientific and academic journals
  • Protection for those who are publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that publication is in the public interest
  • Introducing a new process which should help a person who feels an online statement is defamatory to resolve the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement.
  • A single publication rule to prevent repeated claims against a publisher about the same material
  • Greater protection for secondary publishers including booksellers and newsagents by removing the possibility of an action for defamation being brought against them if it is reasonably practicable for an action to be brought against the primary publisher.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“The new legislation reverses the chilling effect on freedom of expression current libel law has allowed, and the prevention of legitimate debate we have seen in the past. For example, some journalists, scientists or academics have faced unfair legal threats for fairly criticising a company, person or product.”

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara described them as "the end of a long hard-fought battle to ensure a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and people's ability to protect their reputation."

The old laws on libel had been criticised for being outdated, costly and unfair - the new law seeks to ensure effective protection for freedom of expression and encourages open and honest public debate, whilst still protecting those whose reputation has been unjustly attacked.

For those who are looking for a more personal approach on a range of issues, including Business strategy, business recovery, sale or acquisition, VAT and all other tax strategies, contact us at ABDS.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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