Court reports and defamation

Criminal Courts of Justice, DublinBefore Christmas, the Attorney-General called for a debate on the question of whether reports of court proceedings should be actionable in defamation only if there is proof of malice.

Putting her money where her mouth is, she has now referred the matter to the Law Reform Commission (Irish Legal News | Irish Times).

A spokesperson for the Law Reform Commission told Irish Legal News:

I can confirm that a referral by the Attorney General has recently been made to the Commission pursuant to section 4(2)(c) of the Law Reform Commission Act, 1975 [also here] to examine and research matters relating to defamation law and court reporting.

The Irish Times adds that Prof Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway and a Commissioner at the Law Reform Commission, will head up the examination.

It is a fairly narrow issue; and if, after consultations, the Commission concludes that there is indeed a case for reform of the law of defamation as it relates to court reporters, then it will require only a small number of amendments to the Defamation Act 2009 (also here) to achieve it.