The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute.
- includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation
- removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial
- introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"
- provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned
- introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification. and fair comment.