Defamation Act 2013 — Taylor Wessing analysis

The Defamation Act 2013 was enacted on 25 April 2013. This note discusses the likely practical implications of the act. In summary, the act shifts the balance, between free speech and the right to reputation, in favour of free speech. In some areas this shift is likely to be significant (for example, the hurdle for companies wishing to sue for libel); in other areas there may be little change in practice (for example, the truth defence).

Under the 2013 Act, “a statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.”

The first question is whether section 1 gives a new definition to ‘defamatory’ or whether it is setting an additional requirement for a claimant to prove, on top of the existing examples of defamatory meaning. In our view, the serious harm requirement is additional to the existing definitions of defamatory meaning…

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