Defamatory libel

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Defamatory libel was originally an offence under the common law of England. It has been abolished in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It was or is a form of criminal libel, a term with which it is synonymous.[1]

England and Wales and Northern Ireland[edit]

The common law offence of defamatory libel was abolished[2] for England and Wales and Northern Ireland on 12 January 2010.

Section 4 of the Libel Act 1843 which created an aggravated statutory offence was also repealed.

History[edit]

See the following cases:

  • De Libellis Famosis (1606) 5 Co Rep 125a, (1606) 77 ER 250
  • Summer v Hillard (1665) 1 Sid 270, (1665) 82 ER 1099
  • R v Penny (1687) 1 Ld Raym 153, 91 ER 999
  • R v Burdett (1820) 4 B & Ald 95, (1820) 106 ER 873
  • R v Brigstock (1833) 6 Car & P 184, (1833) 172 ER 1199
  • R v Carden (1879) 5 QBD 1
  • Vizetelly v Mudie's Select Library Ltd [1900] 2 QB 170, 16 TLR 352, CA
  • R v Wicks (1936) 25 Cr App R 168
  • Goldsmith v Pressdram Ltd [1977] QB 83
  • Gleaves v Deakin [1980] AC 477, [1979] 2 WLR 665, [1979] 2 All ER 497, 69 Cr App R 59, [1979] Crim LR 458, HL
  • Desmond v Thorne [1983] 1 WLR 163, [1982] 3 All ER 268, QBD

Jurisdiction

This originally vested in the Court of Star Chamber. When that court was abolished, it was transferred to the Court of King's Bench.

Publication in a permanent form

See section 4(1) of the Theatres Act 1968 and section 166(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

Restriction on institution of proceedings

See section 8 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (replacing section 3 of the Newspaper and Libel Registration Act 1881) and section 8 of the Theatres Act 1968.

Defences

See sections 6 and 7 of the Libel Act 1843 and sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888.

Functions of judge and jury

See the Libel Act 1792.

Committal proceedings - Power of magistrates to dismiss charge

See section 4 of the Newspaper and Libel Registration Act 1881.

Power of magistrates to try newspaper libel summarily with the consent of the accused

See section 5 of the Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881. That section was repealed by sections 17 and 65(5) of, and Schedule 13 to, the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Sentence

See sections 4 and 5 of the Libel Act 1843

Proposal to amend the law

In 1985, the Law Commission recommended that the offence of defamatory libel should be abolished and replaced with a new statutory offence of "criminal defamation".[3] The recommendation that a new statutory offence be created has not been implemented.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halsbury's Laws of England, 2006 Reissue
  2. ^ The Coroners and Justice Act 2009, section 73(b)
  3. ^ The Law Commission, Criminal Libel, Working Paper No 84, 15 January 1982

External links[edit]