Saracens Blog

Libel tourism under the Defamation Act

Libel tourism is a term used to describe the way that some claimants choose where to file libel suits in jurisdictions thought more likely to give a more favourable result, mainly in the UK under the Defamation Act.

The Free Speech Protection Act of 2008 and 2009 were two bills aimed at addressing libel tourism by disallowing U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts including judgments under the Defamation Act in the UK against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law.

Libel tourism should not be encouraged, and MPs have called for an end of the culture of tourism libel. Applicants are using the favourable provisions in the Defamation Act to sue the defendant in the UK courts, and the courts of England and Wales are accepting jurisdiction in these cases.

There has been criticism about the amount of damages given in a defamation claim under the Defamation Act. Juries when awarding damages are told about the awards in previous cases and therefore they will push to the limit of what was awarded before. In John & MGN Ltd, the Court of Appeal laid down rules to constrain the jury’s discretion, and give more comprehensive advice before juries decide any claim under the Defamation Act.

We might start seeing a change in the claimant friendly defamation provisions under the Defamation Act, as a result of the bad reputation the UK has received from many countries worldwide especially the USA who had to pass a new bill to stop judgments made by the courts of England and Wales using the Defamation Act being enforced in the USA.

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