Libel and the Media: The Chilling Effect

By Eric Barendt; Laurence Lustgarten et al. | Go to book overview

9
Conclusions

Introduction

In this final Chapter we draw some general conclusions from our study. First, we summarize our findings about the different impact the law of defamation has on the various branches of the media, and then draw some conclusions which seem to be equally valid for all branches. Secondly, we offer some observations on the question of the 'chilling effect' of this area of law on media freedom, the investigation of which was one of our principal aims in embarking on the research. Lastly, we make a few remarks concerning the significance of our findings for reform of the law of defamation. These are made very tentatively. In the first place, it was not our object to make a case for legislative reform. More importantly the decision to reform libel law should follow an assessment of the appropriate balance between media freedom and the interest individuals have in protecting their reputation; only if the present law does not strike the balance in an appropriate way should it be amended. But our research did not look at the concerns of plaintiffs. It does however highlight the particular respects in which the law creates difficulties for the media, and perhaps puts one or two matters on the law reform agenda.


The Differential Impact of Libel Law on the Media

Although we found that all branches of the media, both in England and in Scotland, are concerned about the implications of

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