Defamation Act 2013: Section 5, it’s decision time for website operators – Ashley Hurst

6 01 2014

WebsiteWith the Defamation Act 2013 (the “Act”) now in force, the first section 5 notices will no doubt already be rolling in and website operators will be deciding whether or not to employ the new defence. To assist in their decision, the Ministry of Justice (“MOJ”) has whittled its guidance on the section 5 Regulations (the “Regulations”) down to 8 pages (guidance) and added a few more “frequently asked questions”, bringing the total number to 56 (FAQs). Read the rest of this entry »

The Section 5 Defamation Act Regulations: A complex red herring – Ashley Hurst

16 08 2013

redherring-2The Ministry of Justice (the “MOJ”) last week published its draft regulations (the “Regulations”) for the notice and take-down procedure for website operators under Section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 (“Section 5″ and the “Act”).  Read the rest of this entry »

Paris Brown: A Case in Point for the DPP – Ashley Hurst and Ryan Dolby-Stevens

1 05 2013

Paris BrownThe recent experience of Paris Brown, the 17-year-old who resigned before taking up her role as Kent’s Youth Police and Crime Commissioner following a furore surrounding comments she made on Twitter, demonstrates exactly the type of police activity that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, was seeking to prevent when he issued prosecution guidelines (the “Guidelines“) in December of last year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leveson, Crime and Courts Bill and Online publishers, the devil is in the detail – Ashley Hurst

9 04 2013

Leveson ReportThe Leveson amendments to the Crime & Courts Bill could pose a very significant threat to freedom of expression on the internet unless greater clarity in the definitions is achieved. The devil is all in the detail and very careful scrutiny is required to ensure that it does not have unintended consequences. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting reputation: How the Data Protection Act is being used and abused – Ashley Hurst and Jack Gilbert

2 04 2013

data-protectionIf Leveson’s proposals to erode the journalistic exemption under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) materialise, libel claimants may have an extra string to their bow. But is the DPA already being used and abused by libel claimants? Ashley Hurst and Jack Gilbert discuss.

Amongst the many recommendations in Lord Justice Leveson’s 2,000-page report, his proposed changes to the UK data protection regime would include significantly scaling back the journalistic exemption currently afforded by section 32 of the DPA.  This exemption currently allows data controllers to collect and use personal data without the need to comply with the other provisions of the Act, on the basis that it is collected with a view to the publication of journalistic material and is in the public interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Defamation Bill: Informal Consultation on Clause 5, Key Issues raised by the regulations – Ashley Hurst

23 01 2013

r_seaman@hotmail.comOn 14 December 2012 the Ministry of Justice commenced an informal consultation seeking views on the content of the Regulations to be made under clause 5 of the Defamation Bill concerning the new defence for website operators. These Regulations will establish the notice and take-down procedure that website operators will have to follow in order to be able to rely on the new clause 5 defence. Read the rest of this entry »

Clause 5 Still Needs Work: Joint Committee on Human Rights delivers its verdict on the Defamation Bill – Ashley Hurst

14 12 2012

internet-defamationJust a few days before the Defamation Bill receives its line-by-line scrutiny in the House of Lords Grand Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its report on the Bill.

The report centres on what the Joint Committee considers to be the key elements of the Defamation Bill that impact on human rights, being the proposed codification of the Reynolds defence in clause 4, the new defence for website operators in clause 5, and the proposed single publication rule in clause 8. In this post, I follow on from my previous postings about internet libel and clause 5 (see Part 1 and Part 2) by commenting on the Joint Committee’s recommendations as to clause 5. Read the rest of this entry »

Internet Libel, Part 2: A new streamlined procedure for declaratory relief? – Ashley Hurst

27 11 2012

The Government has recognised when drafting clause 5 of the Defamation Bill that there is a need for individuals and companies to be able to complain effectively to internet intermediaries in respect of libellous content but that internet intermediaries need greater protection from liability for content for which they are not responsible. However, as discussed in the first part of this post, in trying to strike a balance between claimants’ reputations and freedom of speech, perhaps the most difficult issue is how to deal with anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »

Internet Libel, Part 1: What makes it Different? – Ashley Hurst

26 11 2012

Despite the growing number of internet libel cases in recent years, most of the debate around libel reform has concerned the chilling effect of UK libel laws on the newspaper industry. However, there is perhaps a greater chilling effect happening as a result of European intermediary liability laws, which have led to internet intermediaries removing defamatory content without a great deal of scrutiny. At the same time, many genuine victims of online defamation are being left without a remedy due to the challenges of taking action against anonymous users. Read the rest of this entry »

Event report – Digital defamation: the Claimant, the Defendant, the Intermediaries and what lies ahead – Judith Townend

23 11 2012

The internet may have been the elephant in Courtroom 73 during the Leveson Inquiry hearings, but it was the central theme of a series of presentations at JUSTICE’s ‘Life and the Law Online’ event on Tuesday 20 November, chaired by Rosemary Jay, senior attorney, Hunter & Williams. Read the rest of this entry »


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