Friday, December 11, 2009

London Seeks to Shed 'Libel Capital of the World' Title

House of Lords chamber, looking toward throneImage via Wikipedia
England's libel laws, grounded in the 19th century, may be overhauled under a House of Lords bill intended to derail "libel tourism."

Unlike U.S. libel law that requires a plaintiff to prove the falsity of a media defendant's statement concerning the plaintiff, England shifts the burden onto the media defendant to prove the truth of the statement about the plaintiff.
The proposed legislation would place the onus on a foreign plaintiff to show that harm to the foreign plaintiff's reputation was suffered in England before a defamation suit could be initiated in England's courts.

According to accounts in The New York Times and ABA Journal, the House of Lords bill was provoked, in part, by a petition bearing 20,000 signatures that accused England's current libel law of discouraging argument and debate, and by a statement from a consortium of foreign newspapers and publishers threatening to erect firewalls and to discontinue distributing their publications in England (see "TUOL" post 11/9/09).
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