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Defamation Act

Government Bill

Originated in the House of Commons, Session 2012-13

Last updated: 18 March 2021 at 15:37

See full passage

Long title

To amend the law of defamation.


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.

Key areas

  • 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.

Sponsoring departments

Ministry of Justice
Mr Kenneth Clarke
Conservative, Rushcliffe
Ministry of Justice
Lord McNally
Liberal Democrat, Life peer

Current version of the Bill

Defamation Act 2013 c.26
25 April 2013

Bill passage

Bill started in the House of Commons
1st reading
2nd reading
Committee stage
Report stage
3rd reading
Bill in the House of Lords
1st reading
2nd reading
Committee stage
Report stage
3rd reading
Final stages
Consideration of amendments
Royal Assent
In progress
Not applicable
Not yet reached