Effects of The New Defamation Act Upon Commercial Corporations Essay

Effects of The New Defamation Act Upon Commercial Corporations Essay

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The ‘long-standing’ legal principle under which commercial corporations could acquire a remedy against a defamatory act should, in the view of Lord Scott, have been left untouched. In support of this view, the new Defamation Act, which asks for corporations to prove ‘serious financial loss’ in order for a claim to be brought before the court, does appear to restrict corporations’ abilities to defend their reputation, which is of clear value to them. In addition, it has been suggested that the new act contravenes Article 1 of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, with respect to corporations. Notwithstanding this, it has been observed that the previous act did not offer sufficient protection to individuals’ Human Rights under the European Convention. Most importantly were the Right to Freedom of Expression and the Right to a Fair Trial. This essay will explore these issues, with the aim of showing that the new Defamation Act is a step in the right direction with regards to balancing the rights of corporations and individuals in defamation proceedings.
Firstly, it is clear that a corporation’s reputation has value in the marketplace. Robert Post argued that there in the law of defamation there are three main concepts of reputation; property, honour and dignity. Whereas dignity is an overarching concept - more concerned with rights. ‘Honour’, according to Post, is more concerned with the status of a party. It has limited application to corporations that trade for profit. Furthermore, it is not really applicable to individuals unless they are from an ‘upper-class’ background, or provide a civil service – such as a politicians. For these reasons, this essay will discuss exist...

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...2005] EMLR 5
Collins Stewart Limited v The Financial Times Limited (No.1) [2005] EMLR 5 [77]
Derbyshire County Council Appellant v Times Newspapers Ltd. and Others Respondents. [1993] 2 W.L.R. 449
Derbyshire County Council Appellant v Times Newspapers Ltd. and Others Respondents. [1993] 2 W.L.R. 449 [547]
HC/PBC Deb, 26 June 2012, ‘Defamation Bill’, sitting 005
Steel and Morris v. UK [2005] E.M.L.R. 15
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights, as amended) (ECHR), Art 10 & Art 6
McLibel, Franny Armstrong & Ken Loach, Independently Distributed, [2005]. & BBC, 'McLibel: Longest case in English history' (bbc.co.uk, 2005) accessed 2 February 2014
McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris (No.4) AC 1999 (unreported case)
Defamation Act 2013, s 1(2)

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