The Justice Ministry has published its draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation, and there's a good analysis of comparisons with Ireland's 2009 Defamation Act here.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
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
"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."
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.