Next Meeting of the Glasgow Forum for Scots Law: Eric Descheemaeker on Defamation

Published on: Author: johnmacleod Leave a comment

The next meeting of the Glasgow Forum for Scots Law will take place on 21 October 2015 at 3.30pm in Room 134 of the Main Building, University of Glasgow (access via the Thompson (Anatomy) Building’s car park).

Our speaker is Eric Descheemaeker, Reader in Private Law at the University of Edinburgh. Here is an abstract of Eric’s talk:

Reforming the Scots Law of Defamation: an Inside Outsider’s Perspective

That the law of defamation is in a mess has become so trite a remark as to hardly be worth making. North and South of the Border alike, it has grown over centuries as the  result of the decentralised decision-making of courts, without much of an overarching design. The result has long been recognised as lacking in intelligibility and fairness. More recently, the specific attack that the law was overly restrictive of freedom of expression, hence potentially flouting the European Convention on Human Rights, has been levelled at it.

In an English context the Defamation Act 2013 was an attempt to tackle these issues. However the dominant sentiment is that it ended up a poor piece of draughtsmanship that is unlikely to resolve the problems it meant to address and will, at the very least, create new uncertainties. Given the extent to which Scots law relies on English authorities in this field, it is bound to be affected by any changes taking place South of the Border. Accordingly the Scottish Law Commission has included defamation (and the related field of verbal injuries) on its ninth programme of law reform.

This paper explores different options to take the Scots law of defamation forward, first looking at the big picture of law reform in the context of a small mixed (Anglo-Roman) jurisdiction, and then making specific proposals as to what a Scottish response to the English Act could look like, suggesting better ways of achieving some of its legitimate concerns.

All are welcome to join us. If you cannot come in person, you can use the livestream (link ) or follow livetweets and tweet questions of comments using the hashtag #gfsl2015.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *