Ireland’s defamation law reforms set to be approved by cabinet

Reforms to Ireland’s defamation laws are set to be approved by the Cabinet this morning.

The changes will make it easier to secure a court order to identify anonymous online accounts.

The Defamation Amendment Bill will give the Circuit Court the power to issue orders to identify the author behind anonymous accounts who defame someone online.

At present only the High Court can do this, making it cheaper to access.

The proposed reforms would abolish juries in High Court defamation cases and ensure if someone is defamed, a correction must be given equal prominence in the publication.

There will be measures to address libel tourism, where people defamed online take the case in Ireland in the hopes of a higher payout.

There will also be a reformed defence of defamation when it happens during a live broadcast and the presenter took steps to prevent it.

The new law also intends to take account of strategic lawsuits against public participation, where a person or group takes a libel case hoping to discourage others from talking about them, sending a chilling factor into society.

Justice Minister Simon Harris is bringing the proposals to Cabinet and will tell his colleagues the right to free speech needs to be balanced with the right to a good name.



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