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December 11, 2009

Comments

john b

My preferred solution would simply be "limited liability companies or partnerships do not count as persons for the purpose of being plaintiffs in privacy or libel/defamation cases".

Dan Hardie

'But it’s not the laws that create the disproportion in power. It’s the fact that access to them depends on wealth.'

I think (though I may be wrong) that this has changed since solicitors were allowed to take libel cases on a 'no win, no fee' basis. Johanna Kaschke, who has taken Dave Osler to court, doesn't appear to have two beans to rub together. In order to keep the Kenny household free of libel writs, I shall venture not a single word on Ms Kaschke's character or career.

Richard J

"limited liability companies or partnerships do not count as persons for the purpose of being plaintiffs in privacy or libel/defamation cases".

Why? Businesses do have substantial value as a consequence of their brand value (loathsome phrase, I know) and damaging the value of the shareholders' investments by making libellous comments seems a fairly clear-cut case of damaging someone else's property...

Splintered Sunrise

Very good point about inequality of access. And the press' priorities seem to be much more biased towards monstering private citizens than exposing corporate malfeasance. I very much doubt that a relaxation in the law would turn Dominic Mohan into Greg Palast overnight.

There's definitely a case to be made re libel tourism, but it doesn't help that the case is being made by people like David Toube and Nick Cohen. HP Sauce these days is practically an advert for tougher libel laws, and I have a private theory that David T is actively trying to get himself sued for some unfathomable reason. Not the folks you'd want arguing for libel reform IMHO.

skidmarx

Or perhaps his right to talk shite should be defended as long as it stops short of hate speech, or forcing people out of jobs and the like. I know it's said that hard cases make bad law,but surely it isn't the defendable cases under the present system which make the system wrong.

john b

Why?

Limited liability companies are a creation of the state and have nothing to do with any kind of 'natural right' to anything. Therefore, depriving them of certain rights in order to protect the natural rights of people is an easy and just trade-off.

If a company really judges its good name so important that it demands legal protection (as opposed, say, to running a PR campaign pointing out that its accusers are wrong), it should be forced to re-incorporate as an unlimited liability partnership. If it doesn't judge its good name quite that important, then fuck it.

Cian

A very close friend of my mother's lost her job as a teacher, along with the headmistress of her school, after being viciously libelled by the Daily Mail (a parent had a grudge). It was a pretty cut and dry example of libel. They had no evidence, she had her career destroyed. She approached several libel lawyers, none of whom were interested as she had no money to speak of. Maybe things would be different now with no win, no fee lawyers, but I kind of doubt it.

Free speech absolutism in the US is like religion. I've yet to be convinced that allowing incitement is a good idea (the feasibility of preventing it is another matter), but even expressing that sentiment in the US is likely to get you a lecture on the perils of tyranny, freedom and god knows what. Better to let a thousand people die in a pogrom, than muzzle one racist wanker apparently.

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