Juries to be scrapped in defamation cases in wide-ranging reforms

Juries to be scrapped in defamation cases in wide-ranging reforms

Helen McEntee

Juries will be scrapped in defamation cases as part of wide-ranging reforms announced by ministers yesterday.

The government’s long-awaited review of the Defamation Act 2009 was published yesterday, running to more than 300 pages and making a number of recommendations largely aimed at reducing “disproportionate awards”.

The Department of Justice said the major proposals arising from the review include:

  • An end to juries in defamation cases
  • Easier access to justice for individuals whose reputation is unfairly attacked
  • Clearer protection for responsible public interest journalism
  • Reducing legal costs and delays
  • Measures to encourage prompt correction and apology, where mistakes are made; and new measures to combat abuse
  • Make it easier to grant orders directing online service providers to disclose the identity of an anonymous poster of defamatory material

“I am pleased to publish the comprehensive report of the review of the Defamation Act 2009 and to have received Cabinet approval to begin work on new legislation to reform Ireland’s defamation laws,” justice minister Helen McEntee said.

“We must ensure that our defamation law strikes the correct balance between rights which are protected both by our Constitution, and by the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We should vindicate both the individual’s right to their good name and privacy; and the right of others to freedom of expression, taking account of the vital role played in our democracy by a free and independent media, and by other civil society actors, in providing information and debate on matters of public interest.

“The review is the culmination of very extensive work by my Department - including a wide-ranging public consultation, and a stakeholder symposium that brought together the media, academics, the legal profession, social media companies, NGOs, and relevant State bodies.

“I want to thank everyone who engaged with my Department during the review process – their thoughtful and constructive contributions helped to shape this report.”

Mrs McEntee said her department would now begin work on the general scheme of a Defamation (Amendment) Bill.

Share icon
Share this article: