Dublin - Defamation Capital of the World?

defamation130x90 In November 2015 Thomson Reuters, which claims to be the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, released figures showing the number of reported defamation cases in Britain has fallen by almost a third (27%) over the last year.

They attributed the fall to the new UK Defamation Act which came into force in January 2014 in particular to the provision which stipulates that to succeed in a defamation action plaintiffs must demonstrate “serious harm” to their reputation or, in the case of companies, serious financial loss.

Because Ireland’s Defamation Act 2009, by comparison, defines a defamatory statement as one that “tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society” and does not require proof of loss some commentators foresee Dublin becoming the venue of choice for libel tourists and the Defamation Capital of the World.

Irish Legal News asserted the fact damages awards in London average in the tens of thousands while successful defamation action in Dublin can lead to awards in the hundreds of thousands will add to Dublin’s allure. The Irish Times joined the debate with an article by Hugh McCarthy headed “Libel Tourism may Become our Newest Cottage Industry” citing Irish High Court proceedings taken by Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake against Heat magazine.

While we wait to see how this brave new world turns out for the great and the good here at the coalface the reality, as always, is more prosaic. Cases such as a retired footballer winning €85,000 against the Sunday World and a man libelled in article describing him as a ‘Traveller drug king’ being awarded €900,000 may hit the headlines but the essence of mounting a successful defamation action remains early and thorough preparation.

First Rule - Act Swiftly

The first rule is not to delay. Under the Defamation Act there is usually a limitation period of one year within which defamation claims can be made. It is always advisable to seek our advice promptly. Even if you do not intend to make a claim it is still in your interest to have the facts recorded, to consult and be advised.

Because memories fade and stories and circumstances can change it is critical that all essential evidence is protected and safely retained. At the earliest possible moment you should make out a thorough history of the event or events surrounding the defamation. You should make sure you keep all digital records (e.g. of the culprit, offending documents and lay out of premises). Witnesses can be vital and it is important statements are taken from them while they are still traceable and have good recall. It is also critical that records (paper, electronic and cctv footage) are secured from destruction, by emergency court application if necessary.

More Than Compensation

Apart from damages and compensation a victim of defamation can seek other orders. These include a ‘Declaratory Order’ (where the publisher has failed to respond to a request to publish an apology, correction or retraction) and a ‘Prohibition Order’ prohibiting further publication of a defamatory statement.

If you feel you have been defamed and would like further information or assistance please contact Thomas Barry, Thomas Barry & Company, Solicitors, 11 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2 at 01 6773434 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Author Bio: Thomas Barry is a Partner in Thomas Barry & Company, a legal practice based in Dublin. He has over 30 years experience. He regularly writes on legal issues.


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