Sunday, 4 September 2011

2009 Coroners and Justices Act s.73

The final removal of seditious, obscene and defamatory libel from the UK statute book: "The following offences under the common law of England and Wales and the common law of Northern Ireland are abolished—

(a)the offences of sedition and seditious libel;
(b)the offence of defamatory libel;
(c)the offence of obscene libel."

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Internet co-regulation: The Leveson inquiry: plus ca change...

Internet co-regulation: The Leveson inquiry: plus ca change...: "Tonight, News International controls 39% of BSkyB - and the Murdochs control about 36% of News Corporation. Guess what changed today? They c..."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Ed Vaizey, an apology

Net neutrality in Europe: Ed Vaizey, an apology - or, no sex please, we're E...: "I have previously thought that the government is pursuing an active agenda to force ISPs to regulate the Internet on their behalf, in the be..."

Monday, 13 June 2011

Ryan Giggs and the end of days for ISP liability e...

Net neutrality in Europe: Ryan Giggs and the end of days for ISP liability e...: "As Sarko and guests dine on the body of Internet freedom at the eG8 in the next days, no doubt glances will be cast across the Channel at o..."

Mosley loses ECtHR privacy prior notification case

Super-injunction king on super-injunction balancing act Art8 v. Art 10

Mr Justice Eady in Index on Censorship "accepts that ill-informed media comment is something that goes with the territory. “I think it’s inevitable because the press are interested in the press’s own affairs. So privacy and libel get much more coverage than personal injury, commercial cases or even public law, all of which are just as important if not more important. There are lots of judgments that have been criticised where it’s quite apparent that people haven’t read them. But there’s nothing you can do about that.” 

Towards a European media law?

The European Parliament has considered an academic paper on privacy and FoE, which concludes: "I strongly believe that it is imperative to initiate an international debate about the relationship between Articles 8 and 10 of the ECHR and it seems to me that the EU is the only forum in which such a debate can be meaningfully launched.
First of all, it would venture to say that, on the basis of the case-law of the Court of Justice on Article 114 TFEU (in particular the "tobacco advertising" case), there would seem to be at least an arguable case that a legal basis exists for a Media Law, in order to deal with what must be regarded as more than the "abstract risk of obstacles to the exercise of fundamental freedoms". Of course, this would be a complex and delicate exercise and would necessitate looking carefully at existing legislation including "television without frontiers" |(sic) and the E-Commerce Directive. Indeed, I consider that it is surely wrong that national legislators should be left trying to construe a piece of legislation, the E-Commerce Directive, that was not intended to deal with defamation in relation to the position of ISPs and blog hosters and the like.
Secondly, considering whether an EU media law is feasible would also require us to look at the whole issue of public policy and whether a common EU public policy could be constructed on the basis of the case-law of the Court of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the constitutional traditions of the Member States.
Thirdly, even if harmonisation of the law of defamation is not possible, other avenues may exist whereby an EU media law could make life more comfortable and predictable for journalists and citizens. I would suggest that ADR is another and could form part of such a law.  One could conceive of a voluntary ADR system for cross-border defamation cases in the EU, backed up by incentives, or at least disincentives to litigating."

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Internet Governance Part VIII

While the eG8 may well be Sarko's attempt to impose censorship on the Internet, we can at least be glad that personal data-peddling Google is opposed (and still means something in the US and UK at least), and that the Council of Europe appears to be allowing Wolfgang Kleinwachter's study group's Internet governance principles through - which largely agree with the Obama White House document of last week, and Neelie's rhetoric too. So the governments of the West are at least rhetorically in favour of a free Internet...
Meanwhile, for Europeans and Americans, here's a primer on how the infamous Norwich Pharmacal orders work...

Net neutrality in Europe: Streisand Effect and Twitter Joke Trial

Net neutrality in Europe: Streisand Effect and Twitter Joke Trial: "I suppose this will be used by the judiciary as evidence for the Prosecution against the open Internet - the footballer's attempt to sue Twi..."

Sunday, 8 May 2011

3rd Human Rights in Asia Conference 2nd - 4th of June 2011

Registration open for The 3rd Human Rights in Asia Conference 2-4 June 2011- five main subject areas:
Panel Discussion on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information 
(In Memory of Kevin Boyle)
Amnesty International UK, London, 2nd June 2011, 17.30 -20.00.
Contextualising Human Rights in Asia 
Indonesian Embassy, London, 
3rd June 2011, 09.30 – 12.00.
Good Governance and the Rule of Law 
Daiwa Foundation, London, 
3rd of June 2011, 14.00 – 17.30.
University of Essex, Colchester 
4 June 2011, 10.00 – 13.00.
Trade, Business, Development and Human Rights 
14.00 – 17.30.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Academic wins libel case for book review in French court

Joe Weiler won on all counts - including particularly compensation for abuse of process and bad faith by the Israeli complainant for using a French forum of convenience:
“….As regards the choice made by the Complainant to invoke French criminal proceedings, though [Karine Calvo-Goller] holds dual French and Israeli nationality, she resides and works in Israel, the book which is the subject of proceedings was written in English, as was the Book Review; [it was] published on an American website, linked to an American university at which Joseph Weiler works; [the Complainant] explained to the Court that she chose to use the French rather than the American or Israeli systems for financial reasons –the cost of proceedings would have been more expensive for her- as well as for reasons of expediency, being of the view that only French law offered her a chance of success;
… Karine Calvo-Goller thus acknowledges having engaged in what one can call “forum shopping”, that is to say a worldwide search, for the legal system which seems the most favorable to the person initiating legal proceedings, and which places her opponent, as much for legal reasons as for practical reasons — geographical or cultural remoteness — in the least favorable situation….[T]he artificial choice in this case, of the French legal system, coupled with the choice of pursuing a criminal procedure by means of a complaint to an Investigating Judge resulting in both opprobrium and significant costs to the accused, characterizes the abuse of these proceedings;
… Karine Calvo-Goller failed to comprehend [respect] the scope of French Press law stating that the Review which was made the subject of the proceedings could be held to be defamatory…. [I]n effect, the Review of her book does not contain words damaging her honor or her reputation, and only expresses, what is more, in moderate terms, a scientific opinion on [her book] without ever exceeding the limits of free criticism to which all authors of intellectual works expose themselves;
… The bad faith of the Complainant –a lawyer, moreover one familiar with French law given her indication that she pursued her law studies in France- is therefore undeniably established;
….It is therefore with just cause, that Joseph Weiler believes that the [Complainant] has abused her right to bring legal proceedings, on the one hand by initiating an action for defamation in relation to words that do not go beyond the limits of academic criticism, an essential element of academic freedom and freedom of expression and, on the other hand, by artificially bringing proceedings through the French criminal justice system.”
Considering the resulting harm suffered by the accused, he will be justly compensated by judgment against the Complainant requiring her to pay to him the sum of €8,000.” [about US$ 11,000]
Weiler notes: "I hope this brings this sad saga to an end though it should be noted that the Complainant has a right of appeal."

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Nine libel cases in USA in 2009 - are the rest all in London?

"In 2009, out of the hundreds of filings in various United States state and federal courts, just nine defamation matters went to trial in the USA, a staggeringly low number in historical terms.
"Traditional media outlets are enjoying a rare peace. What could account for the apparent demise of the libel plaintiff? Where have the aggrieved complainants gone?
"Among the potential answers mulled over by conference attendees was the recession and the cost of bringing an action against a media company and the disincentive this must be for potential plaintiffs – in a land where costs are rarely granted to the victorious party, even if damages are awarded.
"Another suggestion: in the four decades since New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), public figure plaintiffs have finally worked out that they are on a losing bet in this country and taken their grievances to more plaintiff-friendly surroundings.
"A more plausible theory held that complainants had more options available to them in the digital age."

Classes on 15th and 17th March

Dear all - note that in addition to Tuesday 9pm 15th March, there will be a class 12noon on 17th March in 3.406.

Queen Mary student from Hornchurch, Essex convicted for terrorist website

Mohammed Gul, a 23-year-old from Elm Park Avenue, Hornchurch, was found guilty of five counts of dissemination of terrorist publications contrary to section 2 of the the Terrorism Act 2006 after a trial at the Old Bailey. He was found not guilty on one count of dissemination. Gul had used four different accounts to load extremist videos onto YouTube between March 2008 and February 2009. He began with videos of attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the making of improvised explosive devices (IEDS), and 9/11 footage.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Clinton speech on Internet freedom, censorship and Wikileaks

Delivered at GWU: "The marketplace of ideas worked.... The United States does restrict certain kinds of speech in accordance with the rule of law and our international obligations. We have rules about libel and slander, defamation, and speech that incites imminent violence. But we enforce these rules transparently, and citizens have the right to appeal how they are applied. And we don’t restrict speech even if the majority of people find it offensive. History, after all, is full of examples of ideas that were banned for reasons that we now see as wrong. People were punished for denying the divine right of kings, or suggesting that people should be treated equally regardless of race, gender, or religion. These restrictions might have reflected the dominant view at the time, and variations on these restrictions are still in force in places around the world. But when it comes to online speech, the United States has chosen not to depart from our time-tested principles."

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Max Moseley on privacy and prior notice/injunctions

Max Moseley's case is Application no. 48009/08 before the ECtHR (decision due later in 2011) that may change UK privacy law, arguing that Article 8 requires prior notification to the persons involved if their privacy is breached, and the possibility for a judge to make a pre-publication interim decision on public interest in that invasion of privacy. The argument runs here - very interesting.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Reading for week 3 - defamation

The reading is as follows:
1. Bradley (2008) to end of Chapter 3; also Chapter 6 - consider differences with ECtHR guide you have read
2. 'Libel Tourism' paper in bundle;
3. Defamation cases in ECtHR guide pp.49-60 (also include cases on journalistic sources, artistic expression, Jersild/Thorgeiersen and judicial matters).
4. Read one casenote post from the Matrix Chambers blog:

Hate speech: fining French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen not disproportionate

The ECtHR ruled in May 2010 that fining Msr Le Pen was proportionate to the offence in his speech, as an alternative was to imprison him for making and repeating his remarks. See Prof. Vorhoof's blog post on the subject.

Recent cases on freedom of expression

Thanks for sending me information - I was slightly surprised not to receive anything on Nilesat and Al-Jazeera, a past example of broadcast regulation in such cases is that of Lebanese Hezbollah channel Al-Manar (note Hezbollah is now the government of Lebanon, though not in 2005-8 when most of the activity took place) which you can read here in advance of the 15 March class.
Note that recent Article 10 caselaw is available from the Court's website here.
The latest such case is Mirror Group Newspapers v. UK (18 Jan 2011), a case that almost entirely concerned the increasing and much-criticized use of Conditional Fee Arrangements ('success fees') for privacy/libel/breach of confidentiality trials. The Court upheld the newspapers' complaint that the process itself is an abuse of Article 10 - as a result of which Naomi Campbell's costs of over £1,000,000 may well be reduced. The Court held that:
"recoverable success fees for CFAs suffered four flaws highlighted by Lord Justice Jackson’s review as follows:1.   lack of focus and lack of any qualifying requirements;2.   no incentive on the part of the party instructing lawyers pursuant to a CFA to control legal costs; 3.   opposing party driven to settle early regardless of the prospects; and 4.  solictors and barristers allowed to “cherry pick” winning cases to conduct on CFAs. The “depth and nature of the flaws in the system” had been highlighted by the public consultation process and importantly had been largely accepted by the Ministry of Justice.  Nevertheless the UK government had failed to reform CFAs and success fees in order to deal with these serious criticisms.  The ECHR concluded that the UK government had violated Article 10 of the Convention.  The obligation on MGN to pay success fees to Ms Campbell was disproportionate even having regard to the legitimate aim of recoverable success fees and the broad latitude allowed to domestic legislators in such matters." 
Menteş v. Turkey  (33347/04) 25.01.2011The applicant, Güler Menteş, is a Turkish national who was born in 1972 and lives in Diyarbakır (Turkey). A member of HADEP (People’s Democracy Party), she was sentenced in the criminal courts to 10 months’ imprisonment for having organised and taken part in an illegal demonstration protesting against the death penalty passed on the leader of the PKK (the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan, an illegal organisation), for having taken part in demonstrations protesting against Category F prisons and for having spoken to the press. She claimed that the prevention of her attempt to read a statement to the press had amounted to a breach of Article 10 (freedom of expression).
Violation of Article 10
Just satisfaction: no claim made by the applicant within time-limit

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Newspapers' response to defaming of interviewees

This is a very sobering story about libel from a member of the public - consider it when you read about defamation and libel reform. Is there a case for legal aid?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Reading for Thursday's class

I have received no emails in regard to the set reading, so assume everyone has accessed the texts in the library without problems. In addition to reading the background on the ECHR and its application (especially for those of you unfamiliar with the Strasbourg court), you should read as far as p.47 in the Council of Europe guide for judges that was handed out last week - that is, to the end of the Austrian soldier cases.

This week: Thursday 12-2pm 5S.6.17

This week's class moves to an hour later and a much nicer room - 5S.6.17.
The LW654 seminar will finish promptly at 11.50 so that you can rest and recover a bit before class.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Article 19, ICCPR 1966 - compare with Article 10 ECHR

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Simon Singh journalist to speak on libel and science at Essex 16 Feb

Maths Department hosting on the 16th Feb from 5pm:
 In 2008, Singh was unsuccessfully sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian, which prompted calls for the reform of English libel laws:
Go if you can!