REVIEW OF THE DEFAMATION ACT 2009

Public consultation: invitation for submissions

 

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality is reviewing the operation of the Defamation Act 2009, following section 5 of that Act.

The Act can be viewed at:  http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2009/act/31/enacted/en/print

and at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/isbc/2009_31.html   (updated text with information on amendments and secondary legislation up to 20 September 2016).

A key objective of defamation law in Ireland is to ensure effective protection for the right to good name and reputation guaranteed by Article 40.3.2 of the Constitution, while also ensuring due regard for the right to freedom of expression in a democratic society, contained at Article 40.6.1(i). The rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and to the protection of reputation under Article 8 of the Convention, are also relevant.   

The Defamation Act 2009 effected a substantial consolidation and reform of Irish defamation law, which sought to strike an appropriate and effective balance between the rights just mentioned. The aim of this review is:

- to promote an exchange of views and experiences regarding the operation in practice of the changes made by the 2009 Act,

- to review recent reforms of defamation law in other relevant jurisdictions,

- to examine whether Irish defamation law, and in particular the Defamation Act 2009, remains appropriate and effective for securing its objectives: including in the light of any relevant developments since 2009, 

- to explore and weigh the arguments (and evidence) for and against any proposed changes in Irish defamation law intended to better respond to its objectives, and

- to publish the outcomes of the review, with recommendations on appropriate follow-up measures.

The Department of Justice and Equality is now inviting contributions from members of the public to inform this review.  Organisations or individuals wishing to contribute should send a submission by 31 December 2016:

Defamation Act Review,

Department of Justice and Equality

Bishop’s Square,

Redmond’s Hill,

Dublin 2.

 

It would be helpful for submissions to set out the reasons for the views expressed, and to provide any available evidence on the need for proposed changes, and on their likely impact. Respondents are welcome to propose draft text for legislative amendments to give effect to their proposals.

 

Scope of the review

Find here a summary of the main features of the Defamation Act 2009

The following is an indicative list of some specific issues which may be considered under the review:

 

The above list of issues is not closed. Respondents may make submissions on these and on other aspects of defamation law, and are invited to propose, with reasons, any further issues which they consider should be encompassed by the review.

Please note however that this review excludes sections 36 and 37 of the Defamation Act (defining a statutory offence of blasphemy and providing for seizure of blasphemous material). The reason is that the relevant Constitutional and statutory provisions have already been considered by the Sixth Report of the Constitutional Convention, and will be the subject of a constitutional referendum, as provided in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

 

Publication of Submissions

The Department will publish any submissions received on its website in due course, and may also receive requests for their disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

It is therefore in the interests of respondents to highlight at the time of submission any information which they consider to be commercially sensitive, or to contain private or confidential material, and to specify the reasons for its sensitivity. The Department will consult with respondents regarding information identified by them as sensitive, before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request, and will treat any personal information in accordance with the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.

Published Submissions - A list of submissions received in relation to the review is available at the following link:  Review of the Defamation Act 2009 - Public consultation

Any queries about the contents of this notice may be sent by email to defamationactreview@justice.ie .

 

1 November 2016

 

[1] The review will take into account any recommendations of the recent Report of the Law Reform Commission on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety, which are relevant to defamation law.