O’Dowd on Defamation

Cover of Journal of Media Law, via IngentaJohn O’Dowd of the School of Law, UCD, is first into print with a detailed analysis of the Defamation Act, 2009 (pdf): see “Ireland’s New Defamation Act” (2009) 1 (2) Journal of Media Law 173-190. Here’s the abstract [with added links]:

The [pdf] places the law of defamation in Ireland on an almost completely statutory footing. It results from almost 20 years’ analysis and debate, starting with two Law Reform Commission reports in 1991 [tort of defamation html, pdf; criminal libel html, pdf]. During those two decades, some of the Commission’s proposals were overtaken by judicial development of the common law of defamation, notably by the emergence of the Reynolds [see Reynolds v Times Newspapers [2001] 2 AC 127, [1999] UKHL 45 (28 October 1999)] defence. The Act reflects a determination to take account of such changes, particularly in respect of Reynolds. The Act is distinctive through the reference which it makes to the Press Code of Practice, the Press Ombudsman and Press Council established in 2008 [link]. Those were the response of the press to proposals made to the Government for a statutory press council with regulatory powers over periodical publications. The new defence of fair and reasonable publication on a matter of public interest employs the Code of Practice and the determinations made by the Ombudsman and Council as a yardstick of reasonableness. Reported disagreement within government transpired, not to relate to these modifications of the law of defamation, but to whether or not they must be counter-balanced by a more effective legal protection of personal privacy.

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