Lord Pentland, Chairman
Graham McGlashan, Project Manager
Susan Robb, Solicitor
The Scottish Law Commission’s project on reform of defamation law is approaching its final stages. We have developed and decided on policy in light of responses to the Discussion Paper on Defamation. Please see also the collated responses. We are currently adjusting a draft Bill to give effect to our policy. A working draft of that Bill has been published for consultation below, along with draft explanatory notes and a covering note. The purpose of this is to seek views on the detail and workability of the provisions before the draft is finalised and published with a report around the end of the year. We would particularly welcome views on the aspects of the Bill highlighted in the covering note, by 31 August 2017. Comments would be welcomed by email, in whichever format you would wish to submit them. They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. With that in mind please note the following:
Scope of the Discussion Paper
In the light of the significant changes made by the Defamation Act 2013 in England and Wales, the Discussion Paper covers key areas of defamation law, including the defences of public interest, fair comment and truth, whether there should be a mechanism for filtering out claims where little is at stake, and liability for publication of defamatory material online.
The Paper looks also at whether the courts should be given power to order that a summary of the court’s judgement should be printed by a newspaper or broadcaster which has been found to have defamed someone. It considers if Scottish courts should be given power to order removal of a defamatory statement from a website.
The Paper further examines the relationship of the law on verbal injury and defamation law. And it considers whether it should be possible for defamation claims to be brought where the reputation of a person has been unfairly attacked after his or her death. At present this is not possible.
Coverage of the Discussion Paper
The reform of defamation law is a medium term project which means we intend to publish our report with recommendations and draft legislation by the end of 2017, when the Commission's Ninth Programme of Law Reform comes to an end.
For further information or if there are matters you wish to raise with us, please contact Graham McGlashan