Low bar for lawsuits in Ireland ‘raises concerns’ over freedom to expose corruption
Ireland’s defamation laws should be reviewed as they may suppress the ability of the media to expose corruption … Irish defamation laws are notoriously strict, providing a low bar for lawsuits against journalists and media organisations that are often used to put pressure on journalists.
He made the same points later this afternoon when he addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs. In his opening statement (draft here; pdf) he repeated that “Ireland’s defamation laws raise concerns as regards the ability of the press to expose corruption” (p6) and that “the frequent use and high costs of defamation cases raise concerns” (p7; update: reported Irish Examiner | Irish Independent | TheJournal.ie).
In questions from members of the Committee, Senator Michael McDowell commented that he had been the Minister for Justice who started the reform in the early 2000s (full disclosure, I was on the Group that advised him in this regard), and he agreed with the Commissioner that “Irish defamation law is a little bit suffocating of investigative journalism” and that there “is scope for further reform”.…