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Post  Guest on Sat 20 Mar - 15:48

Haven't got a scanner - but this is the 2nd letter my MP has sent in response to my original e-mail:

I write further to my recent letter and you will recall that I wrote to the Ministry od Justice on your behalf regarding the possible reforms of the law on libel in England and Wales and I copy their response below:-

“The Government firmly supports the right to freedom of expression, which is protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In addition, Section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires courts to have particular regard to the importance of the right to freedom of expression, particularly in relation to the freedom of the press. Of course, the exercise of this right carries with it duties and responsibilities that are expressly recognised in law, such as public safety, the prevention of crime or respect for the rights or the reputations of others. Often the right to freedom of expression may need to be balanced against other rights, like the respect for private and family life, home and correspondence, which is protected by Article 8 of the ECHR.

The Ministry of Justice are concerned about any potential chilling effect that our libel laws are having on freedom of speech. In response to these concerns, the Justice Secretary has set up a working group to examine a range of issues around the substantive law on libel. The group is intended to have and intensive short term focus and has been requested to make recommendations by mid-March. Full details of the terms of reference and membership of the working group can be found at the following link:


The working group’s remit does not extend to issues relating to costs. We have already taken a number of steps to control costs in publication proceedings, ensuring that, where After the Event insurance is taken out, defendants are notified as early as possible and given the opportunity to reach a settlement without being liable for insurance premiums. Defamation proceedings are now part of a mandatory costs budgeting pilot, with judges scrutinising costs as court cases progress to ensure that they are proportionate and within the agreed budget. The Government has also been considering the need for urgent action specifically on the level of success fees in this area.

On 14 January 2010 Lord Justice Jackson, a judge of the Court of Appeal published his report, Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report. Among other things, Lord Justice Jackson recommends a substantive reform of CFAs to include the abolition of the recoverability of success fees and After the Event insurance premiums in all civil cases where CFAs are used, including defamation. The report is available at:


Following the publication of Lord Justice Jackson’s report and its ongoing consideration of the issue, the Government on the 19 January 2010 published a Consultation Paper, Consultation on Controlling Costs in Defamation Proceedings – Reducing Conditional Fee Agreements Success Fees. The paper proposed a reduction in the maximum CFA success fee in defamation proceedings from 100% of the base costs to 10%. The response to this consultation was published on 3 March and indicates that the Government is proceeding to implement this proposal. A Statutory Instrument once approved which would give effect to the 10% success fee was also laid in Parliament on 3 March. The consultation and the response paper are available at:


In addition, you will be aware, the Culture, Media and Sports Committee published the report of its enquiry into Press Standards, Privacy and Libel on 24 February. The proposal to reduce success fees to 10% is an interim step, while the Government considers the full impact of Lord Jusrice Jackson and the Committee’s recommendations on the long term reform of CFAs. “

I hope you find this helpful in clarifying the situation, but if you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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