2 February 2004


ARTICLE 19 comments on recommendations for reform of defamation law

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:


ARTICLE 19 last week filed a submission on the Report of the Irish Legal Advisory Group on Defamation (1) which recommends far-reaching reform of the present, outdated Irish law on defamation. ARTICLE 19 largely endorses the recommendations of the Legal Advisory Group, which, if adopted, would go some way to bringing Irish law into line with international standards in this area.

The Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is engaged in a broad consultation on the Irish law of defamation with a view to amending it, among other things, to bring it into line with international standards in this area. The current law, the Defamation Act 1961, is seriously out of date and in need of far-reaching reform. As part of this process, in March 2003, the Legal Advisory Group on Defamation published a Report making numerous recommendations for reform. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has been receiving submissions on this Report.

ARTICLE 19 endorses many of the Group's recommendations, including to abolish many criminal defamation rules, to introduce a defence of reasonable publication, to broaden the defence of innocent publication, to limit damage awards in various ways and to introduce a number of procedural mechanisms to limit the chilling effect of defamation cases.

At the same time, we do have some concerns with the recommendations of the Group. We are particularly concerned at their recommendation that a statutory press council be established. We do not believe this is necessary in the Irish context, and we also strongly recommend that this matter be considered separately from the issue of defamation. We also oppose their recommendation to retain a limited form of criminal defamation. Finally, we believe that their recommendation that the presumption of falsity be retained should be resisted, at least in the context of statements relating to matters of public concern.

ARTICLE 19 urges the Irish authorities to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that their law in this area reflects international standards and best comparative practice, in line with the recommendations contained in our submission.

1. The Submission is available on the ARTICLE 19 website at http://www.article19.org/docimages/1719.doc


ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
6-8 Amwell Street
United Kingdom
info (@) article19.org
Fax:+44 20 7278 7660
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