Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Jack Straw in libel reform pledge

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has firmed up his promise to reform the libel laws revealing a plan to "introduce a radically reduced cap on the level of excessive success fees in defamation cases".
Press Gazette reports that: "Although there was no new legislation on media law in the Queen’s Speech – Straw has said that the proposed changes can be made under secondary legislation, which does not need the assent of Parliament."
In an interview to be published in this week's New Statesman, Straw says: "Our libel laws are having a chilling effect. By definition, it's not hitting the most profitable international media groups, News International or Associated Newspapers and so on, though it's not good news for them.
"It is hitting the press that is vital to our democracy but whose finances are much more difficult, and that includes magazines, one or two of the nationals, and regional and local newspapers, and it's really bad for them. That's why I will be changing the law on defamation costs".
According to the New Statesman, under the Straw reforms, success fees in libel cases could fall to as little as 10 per cent.

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