The Attorney General has effectively dashed any hopes of thorough going libel reform for England and Wales.
Dominic Grieve told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Conference this week that changes were needed:
- to reflect the globalised world;
- the rise of the internet; and
- the growth of speculative no-win, no-fee claims.
Worse, he said the Coalition’s thinking is largely in line with Lord Lester’s Bill on Libel Reform now in the House of Lords.
I’ve already said the Bill is less than adequate. But I was wrong when I said it would not get a hearing. It has been heard in the Coalition.
The Coalition agreement promised on page 11 “we will review libel laws to protect freedom of speech.” That sounds very Lib/Dem.
But the Bill and Grieve’s remarks do not look like a real review.
If anything, the Judges are pushing ahead faster. Mr Justice Eady, in one of his last rulings, gave it to the defence in the Kaschke v Osler case. He, in effect, ruled that the words complained of could not create damage to the claimant and did not warrant an action.
Is he going soft just before retirement?