Limits of Freedom of Expression in English Law Essays

Limits of Freedom of Expression in English Law Essays

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What are the limits of freedom of expression in English law? Are they satisfactory?
Article 10 of the European convention of human rights holds “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises” This is enshrined in UK law through the Human rights act 1998. Article 10 amounts to a clear protection of all forms of communication ranging from verbal to visual and a firm recognition of the importance afforded to one’s ability express oneself in a democratic society. Key Liberal theorists such as JS Mill place an extensive focus on freedom of expression as a key part of the fulfilment of the individual. Need a key quote from on Liberty.

Like most rights however article 10 is qualified (potentially mention intro to media section etc) , section 10(1) stating that “Article [10] shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises”. In effect “Licencing” amounts to a form of censorship and is therefore a limitation on freedom of expression with regards to the rights of the media in the UK. Licencing takes two distinct forms. Content-based licencing, an example of which is the licencing required by cinemas to screen movies and Activity-based licencing, a format that is employed with regards to radio and television . While there is no definitive evidence for Licencing being a direct challenge to free speech it is easy to see how both these systems could be open to abuse by the executive. A government could po...

... middle of paper ... of prejudicial publications. This is not an issue of freedom of speech alone, but also an issue to a fair trial, as a citizen of the UK we have the right to a fair trial before a jury of our peers under section 6 of the ECHR. This would be made impossible if large scale public discussions were taking place revolving around the case in question via the media, allegations and speculation that influence the jury’s decision could be made potentiality creating a miscarriage of justice. Again the question is one of proportionality and the courts must be careful in weighing up article 6 against article 10 in order to provide a socially equitable solution. The issue of prejudicial publication was throw under the media spotlight in the case of Sunday Times v UK . In this case the European Court of Human Rights held that the UK did not strike this balance effectively

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