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New law to fight 'chilling effect' of old libel lawsuits.

TRIVIAL libel claims are to be targeted by new defamation laws brought into force today.

The Defamation Act 2013 introduces a "new serious harm threshold" designed to help people understand when claims should be brought and discourage wasteful use of court time. Ministers claim the new legislation "reverses the chilling effect" previous libel laws have had on freedom of expression and legitimate debate.

Journalists, scientists and academics have faced unfair legal threats for fairly criticising a company, person or product in the past, the Ministry of Justice said.

Justice minister Shailesh Vara said: "These laws coming into force represent the end of a long and hard-fought battle to ensure a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and people's ability to protect their reputation."

The Defamation Act contains a series of measures including protection for scientists and academics publishing peer-reviewed material in scientific and academic journals.

There will also be protection for those who are publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that publication is in the public interest.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 31, 2013
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