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Libel laws reformed with the introduction of the Defamation Act

The libel laws in England and Wales are set to be overhauled with the Defamation Bill receiving Royal Assent on 25th April 2013.

Under the Defamation Act 2013, which will come into force later this year, businesses can only make a defamation claim if they suffer, or are likely to suffer, “serious financial losses”.

If authors can show that “the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true” or was an honest opinion, then they will avoid liability. This provides greater protection for scientists and academics publishing in peer reviewed journals, as well as those publishing material which they reasonably believe is in the public interest.

The Act will also introduce a tighter test before such claims involving those with little connection to England and Wales can be brought before the courts, along with new rules governing how website operators respond to defamation claims resulting from online statements.