Counsel to Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs
Hugh Tomlinson QC
The Leveson Report is an unrepeatable opportunity to put right some of the historic problems of the British media. Media law has proved a blunt and inadequate instrument to deal with systematic and organised invasion of privacy and persistent irresponsible journalism. Lord Justice Leveson has been asked to recommend a “more effective policy and regulatory regime”.
I hope that such a regime will include an independent regulator with statutory backing providing swift and effective remedies for victims of press misconduct.
I have proposed a compulsory “adjudication” regime. This would cut legal costs whilst providing speedy resolution of privacy and libel claims. At the same time a regulator could require pre-notification of privacy invasions and sanctions for newspapers that published where there was no public interest.
This kind of regime would radically change the legal landscape. But there would still be a need for the courts to resolve difficult privacy and libel issues in a small number of cases.
One final point. The media lobbied for an exception to the Jackson costs recommendations in cases involving the press. This should be removed if access to justice is to be preserved. In the new legal landscape there must be equality of arms between claimants and defendants.