Increasing Concern Of UK's Draconian Libel Laws And How They're Abused

from the time-to-fix-the-problem dept

As I mentioned, we've recently been threatened with a number of lawsuits. One of them is a threat from the UK -- despite the fact that we are not UK-based and have no UK presence or business operations. The concern, as with most legal threats against us, was due to a comment someone made, making fun of someone who, despite haven spoken critically of others, does not appear to like being spoken about critically. The comments in question are certainly not libelous in the US, but with UK defamation law being significantly more draconian, the upset person insists that the comments are, in fact, libel and that a lawsuit is the only proper response. I still think that, even under UK libel law, it would be a stretch to find these comments libelous and a lawsuit in the UK against us would be meaningless, but we requested that the lawsuit threat be removed, and the person not only refused, but suggested the plan was to move forward. When we suggested that such a lawsuit would certainly publicize both the ridiculousness of UK libel laws and how this particular person responded to a random anonymous comment from someone on a blog page, we were told that we were being "bullies" for mentioning that such a lawsuit might look bad for the person. I find it odd that someone who threatens to sue us would then call us a bully for suggesting why such a lawsuit might backfire. Isn't the bullying in threatening a lawsuit?

And, thus, we are left with serious consequences. We've discussed how these sorts of ridiculous libel cases in the UK are creating serious chilling effects for lots of people, and more and more folks are coming forward to point out that the UK really needs to change its laws. The latest is UK comic Dara O'Briain who is sounding the alarm against this "ridiculous system" which almost everyone has recognized is creating "libel tourism."
"The libel laws which were initially set up to protect the reputation of individuals at a time when companies weren't the entities they are now are being used by companies to essentially quash dissent and to destroy criticism.

"That's a major problem. Companies can basically bully people out of saying bad things about their products and services."
The good news is that these comments came at the launch of a campaign to reform the UK's defamation laws to fix its backwards system, which is based on a different time. Hopefully the campaign moves forward quickly -- and with any luck, the threatened lawsuit against us does not become an exhibit they can use in how ridiculous these laws have become.
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Filed Under: defamation, libel tourism, reform, uk

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  1. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 11 Dec 2009 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re:

    "Except in the UK, where truth is not a defense against a libel/slander charge like it is in the US."

    That is retarded.

    Why aren't *these* kinds of laws "normalized?" Why does it only seem to move in the direction of more lawyers?

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