Royal Irish Academy, Dawson St, Dublin 2
Thursday 14 November 2019
On Thursday, 14th November 2019, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan T.D. hosted a symposium on the reform of Ireland’s defamation laws in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. The event brought together media, academics, the legal profession, social media companies, NGOs and relevant state bodies to consider how the Defamation Act 2009 might be amended.
Download the program here
Opening the symposium, the Minister said: “Defamation law in Ireland essentially seeks to balance three different rights which are protected under both our Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of expression, the right to protection of good name and reputation, and the right of access to justice. We might perhaps add a value: that of promoting the importance of truth in public comment and debate, as far as that is reasonably possible, while also recognising and remembering the vital role in a democracy played by an independent media. This morning’s symposium seeks to provide some space for considering the complexity of these issues and will launch the final phase of my Department’s reflection on what changes should be recommended to the Defamation Act 2009.”
Drawing on the key themes which emerged from a public consultation on the issue, the symposium considered how best to reform Irish defamation law to:
Avoid ‘chilling’ effects of high/unpredictable awards and legal costs on public interest media reporting;
Ensure effective and proportionate protection against unfair damage to a person’s good name;
Develop the use of alternative dispute resolution processes and solutions, and avoid defamation as a ‘rich man’s law’;
Tackle effectively the new and specific problems raised by online defamation.
The symposium was moderated by Orla O’Donnell of RTE. The keynote paper was delivered by Prof Andrew Scott of the London School of Economics. Prof Tarlach McGonagle of Leiden University and Prof Neville Cox of Trinity College Dublin also presented papers. The event also featured panel discussions of key stakeholders.
Papers/Presentations available below
Prof. Andrew Scott, (London School of Economics), ‘Defamation law reforms on these themes in common law jurisdictions’. (Download pdf). Prof. Andrew Scott, (London School of Economics), ‘Defamation law reforms on these themes in common law jurisdictions’. (Download Powerpoint Presentation).
The purpose of the symposium was to launch the final phase of reflection and conclusion on what changes may be recommended to the Defamation Act 2009. Once this final phase of the reflection has been completed, it is expected that a report on the review with options for reform will be submitted to the Minister by the end of March 2020 with a view to his bringing legislative proposals to Government in early course.
Submissions received are published on the Departments Website.