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SENIOR lawyers are to examine ways of settling libel actions against newspapers and magazines by arbitration.The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators has set up a working party to look at the proposal and will produce a report by the end of October.Marcus Rutherford, partner at law firm DJ Freeman, will chair the arbitration (defamation) scheme working party. Other members include Ruth Collard of Peter Carter-Ruck, judges Sir Maurice Drake and Sir Oliver Popplewell, and representatives from The Observer, The Guardian, The Times and Express newspapers.Rutherford says: "I believe there will be advantages for both newspapers and potential claimants in having a flexible and cost-effective alternative to the straight-jacket of litigation."Preliminary soundings indicate newspapers may even be prepared to allow the arbitrator the power to order the publication of an apology or of a concise summary of his findings."He says the arbitration scheme would work alongside the Press Complaints Commission to produce a quick, cheap solution to defamation disputes.
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