The Defamation Act 2013: To sue or not to sue?

January 12, 2015

The Defamation Act 2013 (“the Act”) reformed the law relating to slander and libel in England. It was heralded by a Justice Minister as “the end of a long and hard fought battle to ensure a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and people’s ability to protect their reputation.” Many assumed that it would have a significant impact on potential defamation claimants, especially commercial entities seeking redress.

A key reason for this was that Section 1 of the Act created a new entry requirement for those wishing to bring a claim: a claim can only be brought if the relevant publication “caused or is likely to cause serious harm” to the complainant’s reputation. In the case of bodies trading for profit (“corporates”) the Act goes on to make clear that the serious harm test will not be met unless the harm has caused or is likely to cause “serious financial loss.”

But should potential claimants in the commercial sphere, in particular corporates, treat the new entry requirement introduced by section 1 as a significant bar to bringing a defamation claim? In fact, despite initial appearances, the new entry requirement is neither as new nor as restrictive as it may at first seem.

Read "The Defamation Act 2013: To sue or not to sue?".