Monday, 22 June 2009

David Price is the man to talk to

David Price Solicitors & Advocates has won what is believed to be the first successful libel case for a defendant using a conditional fee arrangement

David Price now plans to launch a scheme to offer all defendant clients in libel cases the chance to run the case on a no-win no-fee basis.The firm won the case for Barbara Gardener, a woman who lived in a mansion block in Hampstead. She distributed a newsletter to the other residents of the block that implied the company that managed the property, Parkgate Aspen, was dishonest. The company brought a libel claim against Gardener, but the claim was struck out. David Price has now reached a settlement for Gardener and obtained a 75 per cent success fee.

David Price's plan to offer no-win no-fee advice for all defendants in libel trials, including media clients, was received with some scepticism by defendant libel lawyers.Charles Russell media partner Duncan Lamont said: "When you represent a claimant, the claimant only has to prove that they were libelled and that the libel related to them. With a defendant there is a lot more work for lawyers as you have to research all the facts surrounding the supposed libel. Claimants are also more likely to win. The chances of making this work financially are very slim."

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Market for Free What

Extract From Free Life The Journal of the Libertarian Alliance

Salman Rushdie does not believe in 'free speech'. Neither did most of the literati asked for their opinions on his circumstances in The New Statesman and Society (31 March, 1989). What they did generally support is the right of authors to have what they write published -- well, they would, wouldn't they? They did not mention that -- as typical western statists -- they are in
favour of all manner of other types of stateregulation of communication. To be fair, such double standards are partly due to a common confusion about the nature of 'free speech' and ignorance of how private property is relevant.

Department of censorship of the Ministry of Free Speech

Censorship in the United Kingdom
In 1998, the United Kingdom incorporated the European Convention, and the guarantee of freedom of expression it contains in Article 10, into its domestic law under the Human Rights Act. UK law imposes a number of limitations on freedom of speech not found in some other jurisdictions. For example, its laws recognise the crimes of incitement to racial hatred and incitement to religious hatred. UK laws on defamation are also considered among the strictest in the Western world, imposing a high burden of proof on the defendant.

In 1988, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher imposed a ban on the broadcasting of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams' voice. The ban lasted from November 1988 to 16 September 1994, and denied the UK news media the right to broadcast the voices, though not the words, of all Irish republican and unionist paramilitaries. To allow the continuation of news reporting on the subject, during a time when 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland were a matter of great importance and interest, the BBC used actors to speak Adams' words. The net effect of the ban was to increase publicity.

UK defamation law may have recently experienced a considerable liberalising effect as a result of the ruling in Jameel v Wall Street Journal in October 2006. A ruling of the House of Lords - the highest UK court - revived the so-called Reynolds Defence, in which journalism undertaken in the public interest shall enjoy a complete defence against a libel suit. Conditions for the defence include the right of reply for potential claimants, and that the balance of the piece was fair in view of what the writer knew at the time.The ruling removed the awkward - and hitherto binding - conditions of being able to describe the publisher as being under a duty to publish the material and the public as having a definite interest in receiving it.

The original House of Lords judgment in Reynolds was unclear and held 3-2; whereas Jameel was unanimous and resounding.Lord Hoffman's words, in particular, for how the judge at first instance had applied Reynolds so narrowly, were very harsh. Hoffman LJ made seven references to Eady J, none of them favorable. He twice described his thinking as unrealistic and compared his language to “the jargon of the old Soviet Union.”

But someone is making money from all of this and its not the little guy

Article 10, Human Rights Act 1998

Article 10, Freedom of Expression of the Human Rights Act 1998, which is a qualified right, states everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This guarantees the right to pass information to other people and to receive information that other people want to give to you. It also guarantees the right to hold and express opinions and ideas.

Article 19

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to denote not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are closely related to, yet distinct from, the concept of freedom of thought. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech".

The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression".Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law.

Eric Arthur Blair AKA George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author. His work is marked by a profound consciousness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism. Considered "perhaps the 20th century's best chronicler of English culture,"he wrote works in many different genres including novels, essays, polemic journalism, literary reviews, and poetry. His most famous works are the satirical novel Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Wonder what he would make of the current state of the Ministry of Free Speech