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    Thursday, 18 December 2008

    'Tis the season... to be clamouring for libel reform

    Much has been happening on the defamation/libel reform front in recent days...

    First, Elton John's case against the Guardian collapsed after a ruling on meaning by Mr Justice Tugendhat 'clarified' the approach to be adopted towards irony/satire (this is discussed in more depth elsewhere by the excellent Daithi).

    Secondly, Nicolas Sarkozy has been calling for reform of French defamation law, and speifically its decriminalisation.

    Thirdly, English PEN and Index on Censorship have launched an inquiry into the state of UK libel law (to some extent emulating that recently announced by the Commons Select Ctte chaired by John Whittingdale MP).

    Finally, the House of Commons (Westminster Hall) yesterday held a very interesting adjournment debate on the state of libel law at the behest of Denis McShane MP. Two focuses for attention were particularly noteworthy: the call for a small-claims court style determination of libel actions, and derision of the 'libel tourism' trade with reference to developments in the US Congress and New York state. Both of these are interesting from the LSE perspective. In the former regard, research into the ramifications of the Article 8 recognition of reputation rights that I am currently working on may highlight an unexpected jurisprudential basis (or at least added political impetus) for such a shift. In the latter respect, together with Polis, the Law Department is to host a stakeholders' policy workshop on just this theme in the New Year.

    Thursday, 11 December 2008

    A Sting in the Political Advertising Tale?

    More on a pet pre-occupation... many thanks to Russ Taylor of OfcomWatch and Oxford Uni for highlighting a very interesting development in Strasbourg today where a Norwegian ban on political advertising has been overturned by the court (TV VEST AS & ROGALAND PENSJONISTPARTI v. NORWAY). Its an analogous case to the recent ADI litigation in the UK that ended up unsuccessful in the House of Lords. I haven't had time to read the judgment in full, but it seems that the court was unimpressed by the argument that the ban was necessary to avoid subversion of the public sphere by wealthy interests. Rather they seem to have seen it - perspicaciously - as precluding voice opportunities for marginalised groups.