Friday, December 11, 2009

A Town Called Sue: You Are Libel to Lose!

Amazing, again, how messed up England is. Interesting article with clear discussion of the problem of assignment of burden of proof.

English libel law is the opposite of America’s in many ways. In the United States, the plaintiff, or accuser, must prove that the statement in question was false; public officials must also prove that it was made maliciously, with “reckless disregard” for the truth.

In England (Scotland has its own system), the burden of proof rests on the defendant, whose statements are presumed false and who has to establish that they are true.

It is not only news organizations that are running afoul of the law. Environmentalists, anticorruption campaigners, medical researchers and soccer fans posting criticisms of their teams on blogs have all been sued or threatened with legal action in recent years.



Rhayader said...

Hi Mike, just stopping by to say I caught your piece at Reason on health care spending. Great stuff.

Ross said...

There's a good article on Britain's libel laws here, the most extraordinary case is that of Simon Singh:

"Scientists all over the world are astonished that the British Chiropractic Association can sue Simon Singh, a leading science writer, for saying that the alternative therapy does not work. Typically — and here is another of the problems writers face — the leading libel judge Mr Justice Eady has told Singh that he must defend the most extreme meaning of the words he wrote, a meaning he never intended. Instead of having to argue that the alternative medicine is mumbo-jumbo — an argument that would be worth having — Singh must prove that chiropractors know it is mumbo-jumbo but peddle it to a gullible public regardless."

David said...

South Park fans, this is why Tom Cruise says "I'll sue you in England!!" @ the end of the Scientology episode

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