World Press Freedom Day: NewsBrands Ireland call for reform of Defamation Law

NewsBrands Ireland, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd), is once again highlighting the significant challenge posed to freedom of expression by Ireland’s defamation regime and calls upon the Government to complete its review of the Defamation Act 2009, which is now long overdue.

The level of awards made in defamation cases in Ireland are multiples of awards in extremely serious personal injury cases and entirely out of kilter with awards made in the UK and elsewhere.  Last year, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a complaint that a Supreme Court award of €1.25m in a defamation case amounted to a violation of freedom of expression.

Further, the retention of the jury system in defamation trials creates delays and also a lack of certainty for publishers who have no way to ascertain the extent of their potential liability.  As a result, many newspapers simply won’t take the risk of publishing an article.  This has a chilling effect on the media’s role as the watchdog of the public and its ability to “Keep Power in Check,” which is the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

NewsBrands Ireland reiterates its call for completion of the Review of the Defamation Act 2009 as a matter of urgency.