#DefamationScot: Justice Committee Call for Evidence

The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee has announced a call for evidence for the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill.

January 29, 2020

We are another step closer to reforming defamation law. Earlier this month, the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee announced a call for evidence for the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in December 2019. In the last 23 years, this is the furthest we have come to reform, ensuring that everyone is protected by a law that reflects the realities of modern Scotland, including what technologies we use to communicate, what we have to say, how we challenge wealth and influence, and hold power to account.

The bill is a vast improvement on the existing law, including a serious harm threshold, a statutory public interest defence, a single publication rule that prevents liability for a statement continuing ad infinitum, reinforcing the principle that public authorities cannot bring actions and greater protections for online expression, whether by social media, blogging or email.

Closing on 13th March, this call for evidence is an important step to share different visions as to what the law can look like, what can be improved on and any roadblocks there may be in the future. We are drafting our response and we will soon share resources to help everyone make their voice heard.

Here are a few key steps that we believe will greatly improve defamation law in Scotland:

Making these changes will ensure that reform brings about significant improvements that protect everyone who chooses to speak up and speak out and modernises Scots Law so it is fit for the modern age.

If we can make the case for reform that better protects free expression at this stage we can ensure that the Justice Committee are asking the right questions before MSPs from every party also get to scrutinise and recommend amendments to the draft in Parliament.

The deadline for giving evidence is Friday 13th March. For more information as to how you can submit information check out: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/114208.aspx

Over the coming weeks we will share our position on reform and help people join the call for reform to the Justice Committee.