Scottish Law Commission asking for comments on reform of the law of defamation


18 March 2016

By Kevin Zakreski

In its just-released Discussion Paper on Defamation (PDF), the Scottish Law Commission is asking the public whether it’s time to change the law of defamation.

The commission’s media release accompanying the discussion paper (PDF) notes that the commission is particularly interested in examining “whether there should be a new threshold test so that a claim can be brought only where a publication has caused a certain level of harm to a claimant’s reputation” and “where responsibility for online publication should lie.” The discussion paper also “considers whether the defences of truth, fair comment and publication on a matter of public interest should be clarified and expressed in modern form.”

The discussion paper contains an extensive consideration of the major principles of defamation law. Other topics covered include absolute and qualified privilege, remedies, limitation of defamation actions, jurisdiction and jury trials, defamation of the deceased, and verbal injury and defamation.

The discussion paper sets out 53 questions for public review and comment. The time for commenting closes on 17 June 2016. Further information on the discussion paper is available on the project webpage.


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