Wednesday 22 February 2017

It is time to review our laws on libel

Published 30/06/2015 | 02:30

When it comes to the law of libel it is very difficult to recognise what rubric applies
When it comes to the law of libel it is very difficult to recognise what rubric applies

It is perhaps only human nature that we can all focus more on our own woes than on the woes of others. Our own hurts are always heavier in the scales when weighed against those of strangers. However, when it comes to the law of libel it is very difficult to recognise what rubric applies.

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In personal injuries cases, for instance, an injured person might get anything from €23,300 to €35,700 for a minor skull fracture, but in libel law, should a newspaper say something libellous, an individual might be awarded €85,000. That is exactly what happened yesterday when a High Court jury awarded precisely that sum in damages to former Liverpool and Chelsea footballer David Speedie.

The jury considered two newspaper articles and, after two days of deliberation, gave their answer to eight questions put to them. In answer to whether the first article meant Mr Speedie engaged in criminal activity, it said "no".

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