Britain is notorious for the expense of defending libel claims and for that reason is increasingly attracting libel tourism – the use of British courts by overseas litigants. In 2006 Britain’s Mirror Group Newspapers, following a privacy claim against it, took a case to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the high cost of defending such claims in the United Kingdom. This was the first such case to be brought before a human rights court and the MLDI organised a coalition of NGOs (including Human Rights Watch, Global Witness and the Justice Initiative) to intervene in its support. The intervention points out that the cost of defending a case, which can easily exceed £100,000, affects not only large media corporations but has serious implications for the ability of NGOs and small publications to report on matters of public interest. Among the writs which have been received by London-based NGOs are one from a perpetrator of genocide in Rwanda and the son of the Congolese president.
In Januay 2011, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in this case agreeing with our submission and finding that the high cost of defending libel and privacy cases in the United Kingdom constituted a violation of the right to freedom of expression. See here for the judgment.
MLDI’s intervention can be downloaded here.
UNESCO has released a new report on “The “misuse” of the judicial system to attack freedom of expression”. The report takes an in-depth look at the patterns and challenges surrounding the rise of abusive litigation, and makes a number of recommendations. To mark its release, we explore our own experience tackling legal threats to freedom […]
Lawmakers, academics and citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the threat posed by disinformation and malinformation. ‘Disinformation’ refers to falsehoods spread deliberately to stoke distrust or promote an agenda. It is a widespread issue, overshadowing elections everywhere from Brazil to the USA, fuelling hate speech, such as in India, and impacting stock prices around the […]
This article was written by Esma Yasar, a Kurdish lawyer working for Media Defence’s partner organisation TOHAV. Esma Yasar took part in Media Defence’s fellowship programme, which hosts human rights lawyers from our funded partner organisations all over the world. Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom in Turkey Turkey is one of the most restrictive […]