As is discussed in Mediabeak's other postings (Plans announced to cut defamation costs and Guardian editor sees libel lottery oddsevenly stacked between claimant and defendant) pressure is mounting to tackle the costs associated with libel actions. The government has announced proposals to review the issue and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is currently hearing submissions from lawyers about the effect fees, in particular conditional fee arrangements (CFAs), are having on libel actions.
The press and their lawyers have been highlighting the deterrent effect recent actions are having on papers, particularly smaller regional titles, risking investigative stories. Claimant lawyers are less charitable and see the current status quo as being justified to ensure their clients reasonable access to justice.
Neither have the moral high ground - the press sometimes take calculated risks to secure a high profile story and sell papers, while claimant lawyers often profit handsomely from using CFAs - but the application of libel laws under the current rules need revision. Hopefully the current consultation process will result in some sensible revisions that achieve a balance between safeguarding free speech while providing those unfairly defamed access to remedy.
A full discussion is on MediaGuardian
No win no fee cases
I won't see you in court