Belfast Telegraph

Measures to help safeguard freedom of speech

In July last year the then DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said Stormont should take a 'wait and see' approach on the Bill.

In November, however, his successor Simon Hamilton referred the matter to the Law Society, leading to speculation he may be prepared to take a different approach.

The Defamation Act 2013 contains a series of measures, including:

* "New serious harm threshold" aimed at helping people to understand when claims should be brought and discourage wasteful use of court time.

* Protection for scientists and academics publishing peer-reviewed material in scientific and academic journals.

* Protection for those publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that it is in the public interest.

* Libel tourism targeted by tightening the test for claims involving those with little connection to England and Wales being brought before the courts.

* Introduction of a new process aimed at helping potential victims of defamation online, by resolving the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement.

* Single-publication rule to prevent repeated claims against a publisher about the same material.

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