Defamation Bill to Bring the Law into the World of Social Media

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The new Defamation Bill featured in the Queen's Speech and expected to be introduced later this year will bring existing legislation into the 21st Century, according to a lawyer at a Birmingham law firm.

Featured in the traditional annual address at the state opening of Parliament, the draft legislation has been created for England and Wales and would see the introduction of measures including:Efforts to reduce the number of spurious claims by ensuring claimants are able to show they have suffered significant harm before making a claimThe introduction of a defence for the media based on 'responsible publication on matters of public interest'Greater protection for website hosts in relation to user-generated content, as long as they have complied with the necessary procedureThe removal of the presumption in favour of jury trial Commenting on the changes, Rebekah Finch, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham who specialises in cases related to defamation, said: "The changes area step towards bringing the law into the 21st Century.

"Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has led to a surge in the number of defamation cases relating to content published online with the medium meaning statements can be spread very quickly. …