Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Lee Bollinger new book on freedom of the press in Internet Age

Speaking at LSE in London on 1 February, President of Columbia University Prof. Lee Bollinger is launching his new book on press freedom and the First Amendment.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Citizens United (2010) - US Supreme Court abandons electoral finance caps for corporations as 'natural persons'

A devastating Supreme Court judgment has just created free speech-based rights to make political electoral contributions for corporations, whether not-for-profit or for-profit (possibly even extending to foreign corporations). The decision was 5-4 with Stevens J. making a particularly robust dissent.
Its rather obvious that the First Amendment protection for corporations, as recently extended in the past 30 years, does not hold in European jurisprudence - and its a telling example of the differences in interpreting free speech between the two legal systems.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Recent developments in UK libel law

There have been a lot of developments, speeches and consultations in January affecting the procedures and costs associated with UK libel law - all intended to limit London's position as libel centre of the world.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Defamation - the republication rule in Duke of Brunswick (1849) to be abolished?

Interesting response to the Justice Ministry consultation on restricting the scope of defamation law by abolishing the multiple publication rule - a rule that basically allows suing not of the original libeller but of those who allow the libel to be republished, including Times Newspapers archive. LSE profs Scott and Murray propose that the purposes of preventing careless relibel are best served by a different approach which they term ''non-culpable republication' - more or less a clean-hands defence to the republication rule. They outline it as 'The defence would be available to an archivist-publisher after the elapse of one year from the point of initial publication. To avail of it, the publisher would be required to append a notice to the online article, indicating that a challenge to the accuracy of the piece had been made under the new defence.'

Friday, 1 January 2010

Eady J. to have case appealed in February to Master of the Rolls and LCJ

EADY ON THE BACK FOOT? (from Private Eye)

Mr Justice Eady
THE hope that senior judges are about to cut England’s censor-in-chief down to size is growing among lawyers, who are watching agog as the law’s big guns move on to Mr Justice Eady’s lawn – over the British Chiropractic Association’s controversial libel action against the science writer Simon Singh.
The case has helped to inspire a fightback against the English law’s attacks on freedom of expression from writers, publishers, scientists, comedians, human rights groups, MPs and the United Nations. For as the Eye has reported, Eady placed the most extreme reading possible on Singh’s allegation in the Guardian that chiropractors were “knowingly promoting bogus” therapies when they claimed they could treat asthma, ear infections, and many other childhood illnesses.
Instead of saying that Singh merely had to prove that there was no evidence the treatments worked – which he was happy to do – Eady insisted that Singh must prove that chiropractors knew they were useless but dishonestly peddled them anyway – an impossible task, because it would mean getting into the mysterious minds of alternative therapists.
Singh won the right to contest Eady’s ruling in the appeal court. In ordinary circumstances, an argument about the disputed facts of a libel action would be beneath the dignity of senior judges more used to discussing the great issues of the human rights act and common law. But the master of the rolls, Lord Neuberger, insisted that he wanted to hear the case, and then the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, said he wouldn’t mind joining his learned colleague on the bench too.
As the Lord Chief Justice recently said he was unhappy that London had become the libel capital of the world and wanted parliament to change the law, and as an investigation ordered by Neuberger’s predecessor into the extortionate cost of libel is due out next month, lawyers now await Singh’s appeal in February with rapt attention.