23 March 2018
In a competitive market place and particularly perhaps in times of economic difficulty, a company's reputation may be its most valuable asset. But proposals in the Defamation Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, have sought to put a spanner in the works for company's seeking to restore a damaged reputation through the libel courts.The provision in the Bill requires that corporates should only be allowed to launch libel claims if they can show that they had suffered or were likely to suffer substantial financial loss as a result of the alleged libel. But where damage to reputation may only become obvious months after a damaging publication, and indeed where witnesses may be reluctant to come forward to explain their reluctance, post publication, to deal with a company, that provision may effectively leave companies with no ability to right the wrong done to their reputations.
This week, the House of Commons voted that the Bill should exclude this proviso. The matter will of course, have to go back to the Lords for further debate so the shouting is certainly not yet over.
In a blog on the Huffington Post website, ‘_Reflecting the Real World of Libel_', Amber Melville-Brown and Rupert Cowper-Coles of the Withers Media & Reputation Management team provide comment.