Friday 21 September 2018

Defamation risks mean 'stories go unpublished'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Robin Schiller

The body representing Irish newspapers warned media groups are not publishing certain articles due to the risks attached to Ireland's defamation laws.

NewsBrands Ireland has called for the Government to complete its review of the Defamation Act 2009, which poses "significant challenges" to freedom of expression.

The representative body has made the call for the review ahead of World Press Freedom Day today.

NewsBrands Ireland said that monetary sanctions in some defamation cases are "multiple" of awards in personal injury claims.

The retention of the jury system for defamation cases has also been criticised, with the body citing long delays and uncertainty for publishers in establishing potential liability.

"Last year, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a complaint that a Supreme Court award of €1.25m in a defamation case amounted to a violation of freedom of expression," NewsBrands said in a statement.

"Further, the retention of the jury system in defamation trials creates delays and also a lack of certainty for publishers who have no way to ascertain the extent of their potential liability. As a result, many newspapers simply won't take the risk of publishing an article.

"This has a chilling effect on the media's role as the watchdog of the public and its ability to 'Keep Power in Check', which is the theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day."

Irish Independent

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