More Worries About UK Libel Laws Leading To 'Defamation Tourism'

from the this-should-be-fixed dept

For years, we've talked about how the significantly lower barrier to showing libel in the UK (and the higher damages) have resulted in people suing for libel in the UK for online content, even if there's no connection (at all) to the UK. Yes, there have been cases where people outside the UK have sued in the UK over content that was written, published and hosted outside of the UK (and targeted at a non-UK audience) just because of the nature of UK libel laws. Slashdot points out that this is raising concerns of an increasing number of "defamation tourism" cases in the UK, noting that such lawsuits have become "one of the UK's growing export industries." This shouldn't be seen as a good thing.


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  1.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 12:42am

    Growth industry?

    Hang on a moment - the UK has a growth industry that Gordon and chums haven't completely screwed up yet?

    Bring it on... ;0) If the accused is dumb enough to appear and to pay out on orders from a court with absolutly no jurisdiction then they deserve what they get

    Of course if our currency keeps tanking the way it is £1million might not actually end up being that much back home...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 12:57am

    Let's become re-acclimated with the fundamental reasons why the United States of America absolved itself from the Crown.

    This seems to be a request from The Crown to remove rights you currently have. Any rights you give up is silly. And quite frankly, this is why the United States of America Exists. Rights you give up will be rights your Forefathers fought for.

    What happens in the UK or the like doesn't apply in the USA. When you go into the discussion of recognizing that you live under UK Law, you should assume you no longer a US Citizen. Additionally, your expectations as a citizen will be different than that of what the UK prescribes.

    All Americans should become re-acquainted with the Bill Of Rights, and why America had a war with the mother country, England. They are counting on you to not understand.

    Instead, you should question why World History, Civics, and American History were not included in "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Perhaps school Districts didn't receive funding for this.

    Bone up on it, freshie. Start off by researching the life of the man on the bill in your pocket.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

     

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  3.  
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    Jan, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 1:25am

    Jurisdiction tourism and Sharia law

    Funny idea - lets imagine that the idea "you can choose the country where you sue your opponent" catches on. We know that there are many countries in the world - with many very different laws. So basically you can take anything your opponent does, pick a country where it is illegal and sue him/her... and get rid of him/her using for example some country where there is a death penalty for premarital sex.

    If I were one of those pushing for jurisdiction tourism... I would be very very careful.

     

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  4.  
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    mkvf, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 1:36am

    What are you waffling on about AC? Anything specifically about the post? Really makes me want to put my red coat on and go burn some villages...

    Anyway, on point and as I commented here a couple of days ago, UK libel laws are atrocious. The question is, what can other countries do about them? Certainly laws that allow victims of libel tourism to countersue in local courts are a start.

    I wonder if something like the WTO could be used to force Westminster to amend English law. After all, these laws are effectively a barrier to the export of US publications to the UK. Could the US impose some sort of tariff on UK publishers selling books in the UK? Or could US and other politicians do more to use the UN to shame England into amending these laws?

     

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  5.  
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    mkvf, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 1:55am

    @enrico suarve

    The problem with the 'publish and be damned' approach you suggest is that individual authors may want to travel to the UK, and their publishers will likely have an office or subsidiary in the UK.

    The way English libel laws are written, virtually everyone from the CEO of the compnay that publishes a book, down to the guy who runs the bookshop it is sold in, can be held liable for any defamation. As an example, look up the Scallywag case.

    Scallywag was a satirical magazine, which had published an article someone (I'm a bit blurry on the details, as it was a long time ago) objected to. Rather than going after them, the complainant threatened to sue W H Smith's, who, as well as running their own stores, had a virtual monopoly on magazine distribution. Smith's then refused to distribute Scallywag, which meant it got no newsagent sales and went bankrupt.

    The point is, English libel laws set very difficult standards for respondents, allow complainants to select respondents for the maximum chilling effect, and give our courts virtually international reach (particularly with regards to Internet publications). Only concerted international pressure to change them will fix the problem.

     

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  6.  
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    Jack Sombra, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 2:19am

    Dear Anonymous Coward

    Lovely (though mildly incomprehensible) rant.

    Just one thing though,USA lost any ability or right to bitch about any country imposing their laws on Americans for actions that occurred outside the USA when America started doing that to citizens of other countries

    Practice what you preach

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 2:29am

    Re:

    Really makes me want to put my red coat on and go burn some villages...

    Really? That's kinda sad. Never thought it that way, but.. Wow. Quite an answer. More than I expected. Holy cow. I hope your not who I think you are, or maybe your joking, drunk or something.

    Anyway, on point and as I commented here a couple of days ago, UK libel laws are atrocious. The question is, what can other countries do about them? Certainly laws that allow victims of libel tourism to countersue in local courts are a start.

    This is probably where we start in some sort of agreement. Nonetheless, understand that UK libel laws are not enforceable outside of Crown Countries.

    I wonder if something like the WTO could be used to force Westminster to amend English law. After all, these laws are effectively a barrier to the export of US publications to the UK.

    This would be quite a feat. You seem to be someone lacking proper A-Level backing on England. Going into this, understand England has much history, much troublesome, actually. You may best recognize yourself with the ideas seeded from a Disney Movie "Mary Poppins."

    However, considering such a revolution in basic legalism would require England to make multiple changes. First, land-wise, England is smaller than the size of the State of Oregon. To fix this, perhaps a smarter route would be to welcome, with wide open arms, immigrants from England, and Germany (I really like Germans) as well as other countries to the US.

    After this, let's recommend a higher percentage of the XDR basket. We've been lacking on this lately, and haven't tooted our horn. So If we're going to have gung-ho people sail across the Atlantic to move to the US, we deserve a little more love from the IMF. If not, they can go fuck themselves.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 2:42am

    Re:

    Dear Jack,
    We've been working on this since 1776.
    We need you to come join in.

    Come on over an be a part of the change.

     

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  9.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 4:15am

    Re: @enrico suarve

    True they do go a bit far but seriously - shock & horror that a country would have laws where the cost of litigation prevents justice?

    You gave us ambulance chasing claims laywers - consider this favour returned ;0)

    To be absolutly honest this sounds a lot like the DMCA to me "I made a threat, take down the content and do it now" can't think where I've heard that before... Yeah it sucks that if you didn't commit libel you could still be forced to take your content offline by someone with more money than you but call me a cynic - rich guys beating up on poor guys is just the way the world is designed to work

    As for the others with their "[I can't believe another country is applying its laws outside its borders]" - from Americans? Serious? Guys really, April fools was yesterday

    Yeah this is not nice but Blair & Bush have so totally screwed up so many basic human freedoms, this ones way down my list of things to even think about objecting too

     

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  10.  
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    NullOp, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 5:26am

    Figures....

    What ever happened to the old adage of "sticks and stones?" People are just becoming more "Weeniefied(tm)" by the day. Seems to me we all, and especially those in the UK, need to grow a thicker skin and learn to live with the fact that other might not love us as much as we love us.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 1:03am

    Re: Figures....

    "People are just becoming more "Weeniefied(tm)" by the day."

    It's the feminization of society.

     

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  12.  
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    Also Anonymouse, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:42pm

    Re:

    Um... right. Libel comes under international law. Specifically Article 17 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    For the record this is nothing to do with the crown and this has happened elsewhere around the globe. People are chosing the UK because it has strict libel laws, from it's common law... which U.S law is actually founded upon as well.

     

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