Inforrm Debate: Abolition of Libel Juries, Poll Results

2 08 2012

In June and July 2012 we published a number of posts as part of an “Inforrm Debate” on the issue as to whether trial by jury should be abolished in libel cases. On 13 July 2012 we published a poll to find out whether our readers favoured the abolition of the statutory right to jury trial contained in clause 11 of the Defamation Bill.

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Inforrm Debate: Abolition of Libel Juries – The Poll

13 07 2012

Over the last few weeks we have published a number of posts about the right to jury trial in libel cases.  At present, clause 11 of the Defamation Bill removes the right to jury trial in cases of libel and slander.  This will, in practice, mean that libel cases, in the future, will always be tried by judge alone. Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Libel juries, is there a middle way? – Hugh Tomlinson QC

11 07 2012

The Government proposes to abolish the right to trial by jury in libel cases. Opponents seek the retention of the right in the established form of a “presumption” in favour of libel trials in jury cases unless the case involves “prolonged examination of documents”.  Is it possible to find a middle way?  It is important to consider the arguments on both sides to see whether there is any possible common ground.  Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: On Jury Trials in Civil Cases – A view from the United States – Jack W. London

5 07 2012

I am a long-term member of the Jury Charge committee of my state bar in the United States, a committee that writes the legal instructions to the jury in civil cases, and was thus very pleased to observe the closing arguments and the Judge’s summing up to the jury in the recent trial of Cooper v Evening Standard and Associated Newspapers, a civil  jury trial that arose from a newspaper article that incorrectly reported that Mr. Cooper was a ringleader who organised the Millbank riots  in  November 2011.  Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Jury Trial, does clause 11 reflect the views of the Joint Committee?

3 07 2012

The Defamation Bill which is presently before Parliament provides for the abolition of the right to trial by jury in libel cases. Clause 11 of the Bill provides for the removal of the right to jury trial in such cases – a right which has been enshrined in law for nearly 100 years (see our post on the historical background). This clause was approved by the Defamation Bill Committee last week. Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Jury trial in libel actions: the plaything of civil liberty purists! – Alastair Brett

29 06 2012

Defamation is a rich man’s sport.  Only the super-rich or those on “no win, no fee” agreements with their lawyers can begin to afford the astronomic cost of a libel action.  Why? Because there are too many uncertainties in defamation actions.  First and foremost amongst these is ‘trial by jury’, a quite extraordinary hang-over from the past, which in too many cases bears little or no resemblance to justice. Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Vindication for the Jury – Lucy Moorman

28 06 2012

The jury award of £60,000 libel damages to PhD student Luke Cooper was a vindication not only of Luke Cooper’s reputation, it was a vindication of the jury itself and a reminder of what effective justice a jury can deliver.  Events in Court 13 last Friday remind us that, when newspapers demonise individuals and refuse to admit they are wrong, there is no more appropriate and telling vindication than the unanimous verdict and award of damages by a jury.   Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Libel Jury Trials – Some Historical Background

26 06 2012

The right to trial by jury was a fundamental feature of both criminal and civil procedure under the common law.  While the right to trial by jury is seen, by most commentators, as a fundamental right in criminal cases, it has over the last century and a half been gradually eroded in civil cases. Read the rest of this entry »





Inforrm Debate: Should libel jury trials be abolished? – Introduction

24 06 2012

The Defamation Bill 2012 has had its second reading and is now at the Committee Stage in the House of Commons.  The Committee has not yet reached clause 11 which is headed “Trial to be without a jury unless the court orders otherwise”.  This clause removes the right to jury trial in actions for libel and slander.  As a result, such actions are in the same category as all other claims: such actions “shall be tried without a jury unless the court in its discretion orders it to be tried with a jury” (section 69(3), Senior Courts Act 1981). Read the rest of this entry »








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