Free speech groups welcome repeal of punitive law
English PEN and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcome the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
Section 40(3) of the Act introduced worrying provisions for the awarding of punitive costs against publications that chose not to join a recognised regulator. Under this law, defendants would have been liable to pay the costs of both parties, even if vindicated.
In a January 2017 submission to a DCMS consultation, English PEN and RSF called for a repeal of the law: ‘Section 40 would introduce an unprecedented chilling effect for publishers and journalists in the UK, leading to self-censorship and a reduction in public interest reporting. The essential role of the press in our democracy would therefore be undermined, as well as the scope for any writer to investigate matters of concern and national interest for the public.’ The submission argued that the measure was incompatible with free speech protections under the European Convention on Human Rights.
English PEN and RSF are extremely grateful to Emma Woollcott, Leyla Linton and Humam Al-Jibouri, of the Reputation Protection team at Mishcon de Reya, for their expert advice and support in preparing the submission to the DCMS consultation.
Read the full press release here.