CIoJ News

Barbara Beatrice Hutchinson 1920-2015

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Barbara Hutchinson

The word that first comes to mind when thinking of Barbara is “indomitable”. When over 90 and suffering from arthritis and a badly damaged leg among other things, she declared that she was going to book herself into the Grand Hotel at Eastbourne and get herself there by train – and she did. Rejecting all offers of help. lt was typical of how life went for her.

We first met on the Bournemouth Times (later taken over by the Evening Echo). She wrote as Roberta Fearn, on fashion and the social scene active in Bournemouth at the time. She left on the spot when she discovered that her name was being used in an advertising tie-up with a local department store. Hard as it was then – early Fifties – for women to make their way without the right contacts, off she went to London!

She worked on London weeklies before moving into the women’s magazine world, and finally to the Press Association first as fashion writer and later on general news.

After her retirement in the early 1980’s fate took an unkind turn. She was determined to find other work and on her way to an interview was knocked to the ground by one of the “oddbods” who used to frequent Fleet Street. A hip replacement and arthritis resulted. But she continued covering the Paris fashion shows until about 2010 for various publications including some in Australia.

One of her great regrets was that she would not be able to go to Ascot again…

Barbara, a long-time member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, died on July 2, within a whisker of her 95th birthday. She was recognized at Pickering House, Dorking, run by the Journalists Charity, as the character she had always been.

Barbara Hutchinson’s funeral details:

Leatherhead Crematorium, July 24, 3.30pm and afterwards at Pickering House where she had received such excellent and devoted care.

Vera King

CIoJ elections 2014

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CIoJ logo

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is seeking a new Vice President who will automatically become President in 2016 -18.

Any full member who is fully paid and has been with the Institute for five years is able to come forward, but they will need the support of five others.

Current President and former BBC and independent broadcaster, Paul Leighton, is hoping that members who are interested in the role will come forward especially as journalism has developed a breath and depth like never before.

Paul said: “The challenges facing journalists have always been important ones which is why the CIoJ was given a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria back in 1890.

“But the industry has rapidly gone from hacking scandals to making significant changes in legal and ethical matters, as well as coping with the introduction of a wide range of platforms for delivery.  It is vital that the CIoJ has a spokesperson who can be heard quickly and clearly.”

The deadline for nominations for VP or for standing in the very important role as a trustee for the CIoJ charities – Orphan Fund, Oak Hill and Pensions Fund – is the 15 December 2014.

Please call CIoJ’s Chief Executive Dominic Cooper for a chat in the first instance on 020 7252 1187.

 

Institute Past President, Robin Morgan, has died

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7 November 2014

Robin Morgan

Robin Morgan, Fellow and Past President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

We are sorry to inform you that Robin Morgan has died.

He died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday (4 November) after being taken into hospital at the weekend. Robin had fought a long battle with cancer, which ultimately took his life.

Robin was a seasoned hack of the old-school. He was still at school when he started work for the Blackpool Gazette, submitting soccer and cricket reports. He briefly joined the staff there before moving over the Pennines to join the Barnsley Chronicle and then the Yorkshire Post. He joined the Institute in 1979 and was an active member of Yorkshire Region ever since. He also held a number of senior positions including Chairman of the Salaries and Conditions Board, President (1993/4), Member of Council, Chairman of the Professional Practices Board (PPB) and Trustee of the Orphan Fund.

Robin, like his good friend Charlie Harris who died earlier in the year, was an Institute stalwart through and through. He showed endless kindness and compassion to fellow members during the 35 years he was in membership. His death is a great loss for the Institute and the many friends he has in the organisation.

Funeral arrangements

Robin’s funeral will take place on Monday, 17th November at 2.00 pm at the Ardsley Crematorium, Ardsley, Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Following the cremation, a reception will be held at The Holiday Inn Hotel, Dodworth, Barnsley. We would be very grateful if we could have some idea if you would like to attend before Wednesday (12 November). Please contact the CIoJ at memberservices@cioj.co.uk or on 020 7252 1187.

Tribute to a much loved broadcaster – James Alexander Gordon

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James Alexander Gordon

A warm tribute’s been paid to broadcaster James Alexander Gordon who has died, by the journalists organisation of which he was an active member for thirty years. The Chartered Institute of Journalists said he would be greatly missed by his many colleagues and friends – but especially by all those who worked with him at Radio 2 and in the Institute.

President of the Institute, Paul Leighton who read news alongside “JAG” for many years at Radio 2, said he would always be remembered as a “loyal friend, a true gentleman and a thoroughly professional broadcaster”. ” He was always a consummate professional on air, but off duty he had a wicked sense of humour and was a marvellous raconteur” Leighton said that James was was famous -r possibly notorious – for his story of his chilling night-time encounter with the “Langham Ghost” – the Langham being a former Hotel opposite Broadcasting House where newsmen and announcers had bedrooms for covering “split-shifts”

After an early career in the music business, James started work as a newsreader/announcer at the BBC in the seventies – and began reading the classified football results in 1973. His unique cadences meant that listeners knew the outcome of a match after hearing only the first score. James joined the Institute of Journalists in the early eighties and soon became Vice-Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division and an active participant in Institute meetings and events. He was also in much demand as an after-dinner speaker and compere.

Although he formally retired from the BBC in 1992, he went on reading the soccer results for Radio5 Live until he had an operation for cancer on his larynx in 2013.

James leaves a wife Julia, son David and two grandchildren Molly and Martha.

Leighton said ” James was a one-off. No other broadcaster will ever be quite as instantly recognisable – or as much loved. Our thoughts go out to Julia and his family”

 

 

CIoJ’s enhanced 24-hour advice line for members

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Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists now enjoy and enhanced 24 hour advice line. Until recently the advice line only dealt with legal issues. We have now improved that service to include tax and counselling as well.

This enhanced CIoJ member benefit includes:

Legal Advice

Members may ring for advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, on any matter relating to UK and European law.

The advice line is staffed by Solicitors and Barristers specially selected for their skill in explaining complex legal matters in everyday language. They are able to provide specialist knowledge in the areas of employment, personal injury, medical negligence, property, contract disputes and consumer law to name but a few.

Where they do not have the skills in-house, they will call on a specialist panel of Lawyers and, for European legal advice, Lawyers in sister offices across Europe.

Confidential advice is available over the phone on any personal legal issue, under the laws of any European Union country, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Switzerland and Norway.

Advice about the law in England and Wales is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Legal advice for the other countries is available 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public and bank holidays. If you call outside these times, staff will call you back.

Tax Advice

This personal tax helpline provides confidential advice on any tax matters affecting your personal UK and EU Tax affairs. This includes advice on self assessment, tax credits, inheritance tax amongst a host of other personal taxation issues.

The Commercial tax helpline provides confidential advice on all UK business tax issues ranging from advice on VAT and business tax through to pay roll matters.

The service covers all aspects of the following taxes: Income Tax; Capital Gains Tax; Inheritance Tax; Corporation Tax; Capital Allowances; Stamp Duty/Stamp Duty Land Tax; National Insurance (classes 1,2,3 and 4).

As well as payroll taxes including: Statutory Maternity/Paternity Pay; Statutory Sick Pay; Benefits in Kind; Employment status.

VAT

Our service includes advice on handling HMRC formal enquiries both from a tactical and a technical perspective; however we do not undertake tax planning, give advice on state benefits other than whether individual benefits are taxable or complete returns and review documentation on behalf of callers.

From a VAT perspective, we do not advise on excise duties (duty on cigarettes, alcohol and tobacco) and Import/export duties.

Counselling

We will provide you with a confidential counselling service over the phone. Experienced counsellors are available to discuss any issue and offer completely confidential support and advice at a time that suits you. Some of the concerns they deal with include stress, anxiety, depression, health related issues, relationship breakdown and bereavement. They are also able to provide all kinds of information and can offer referral to relevant professional or voluntary bodies which offer help and support.

Health & Medical

The Medical Advice information helpline can provide non-diagnostic advice and a qualified nurse to talk through any problems with you. Nurses will provide information about all types of surgical and medical procedures, health issues such as MMR and complementary therapies. From their extensive database, they can fax or post information sheets on over 400 medical conditions. Health Advisors can also offer you assistance with a diverse range of health related issues. These include anything from diet and exercise, to reducing alcohol consumption and giving up smoking. Where necessary they will prepare plans for callers to follow, and the caller can then ring back to discuss their progress.

Identity Theft

You can access the identity theft support service through the identity theft helpline. You will be assigned a personal caseworker who will give you telephone advice and a personal action plan to help regain your identity.

Members should contact Head Office for contact details.

 

 

 

 

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has a new President

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE:  3 March 2014

Paul Leighton is the new President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

PLeighton

Paul trained as a reporter at the Birmingham Post, after graduating in Politics with Economics from the University of Nottingham.

But radio captured his heart after joining BBC Radio Derby as reporter in 1972 , and he ran BBC studios in Matlock and Chesterfield – covering Derbyshire County Council and its then maverick leader David Bookbinder.

Paul’s continued interest in news and politics saw him work as a stringer for Telegraph and the Guardian and as a political Columnist for the Derby Trader Group before joining BBC Radio 4 in 1979.

He went on to lecture and develop staff at the BBC Journalist Training Unit at Broadcasting House, London and after twenty years with the Corporation he left to join Chiltern Radio Group becoming News editor for commercial stations in Dunstable, Bedford, Milton Keynes and St Albans.

He rejoined BBC Radio2 in 1995 and worked there as newsreader until 2000 when took up appointment as Head of News for Mix96 Radio in Aylesbury and Swan FM in High Wycombe.

More recently he has been a lecturer and freelance journalist and broadcaster in the West Country and he lives in Bristol.

He has for many years been Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division and was previously President from 1990-91.

Welcoming his new post Paul said: “I will continue the fight by the CIoJ in defending journalists and journalism against politicians’ attempts to stifle press freedom and undermine serious investigative reporting.

“The Institute needs to re-double its efforts to raise its public profile and ensure that we are always consulted over legislation or regulations that threaten the profession.”

He is also committed to encourage a revival of people’s interest in professional bodies after watching the development of criminal proceedings against journalists.

The CIoJ has always held its members to the highest ethics and many journalists had no idea what was being carried out by some publishers at national level. This point was made by Lord Justice Leveson and seems to have been ignored by every politician who has been held up to scrutiny.

“For that reason and for people to have confidence in journalists I will be fighting for us to renew contacts with our grassroots membership, and ensure that we are not perceived to be – an entirely London-centric organisation.

And he added: “It goes without saying that we must continue to expand our membership, since, although we have always “punched above our weight”, with all the threats to public funding affecting the BBC and the ongoing fight with regulation, there is greater strength in numbers.”

Paul takes over from former President Charlie Harris who died of cancer earlier this year.

Ends

 

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth. Website: www.cioj.co.uk

Presidential handover – 3 April 2014

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Come along and welcome the new president as he takes up his new role with the Institute.

All members are invited to attend this free event but you will need to book your place so that we may reserve a place.

PLeighton

Our guest speaker will be Simon Richards, Chief Executive of The Freedom Association. For those not familiar with the Freedom Association, it is best described as ” a non partisan, libertarian pressure group dedicated to fighting for individual liberty and freedom of expression” and it’s views on press regulation closely match our own.

The event will take place at the Union Jack Club, Sandell Street, London SE1 – close to Waterloo station – from 6.30 – 9.00pm. Guests are welcome.

Drinks and light refreshments will be available.

Contact Diane – dianec@cioj.co.uk – to put your name down for the event.

 

Charlie Harris, President, Chartered Institute of Journalists

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Charlie Harris

President, Chartered Institute of Journalists

CHarris

We are sorry to inform you that Charlie has died. He died peacefully at 8.50pm on Saturday (4 January) in St Luke’s Hospice, Harrow where he had been admitted just after Christmas suffering from the advance effects of bowel and liver cancer.

Charlie’s death is a great loss to the Institute.

Read Charlie’s obituary, together with other tributes.

Costs protection in defamation and privacy claims

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CIoJ

The Chartered Institute of Journalists’ response to the Government’s proposals on:  Costs protection in defamation and privacy claims

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest professional association of journalists and operates under a Charter granted in 1890 by HM Queen Victoria. This charter compels us to look after the good interests of all aspects of journalism.

We represent staff and freelance journalists across all sectors of the media including local and national newspapers, periodicals, broadcasting and electronic publishing.

 

Background observations and summary of impact

The proposals, as laid out in the government’s consultation paper, have to be interpreted in the context of the current hostile media law environment for British publishers and journalists. This environment has been made worse by the many recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry, recent legislation, and the all party Royal Charter plan poised to be forced on a newspaper industry without its agreement or consent.

This Charter has been largely drafted and manipulated in its content by the secretive lobbying company Hacked Off. An organisation that is heavily influenced by slighted actors, idealistic media academics and media lawyers, some of whom have profited hugely from the multiple legal actions arising from the phone hacking scandal.

In the last few decades everything related to defamation and privacy claims has increasing spiraled out of control. So much so that actions increasingly resemble a wild west feel of roll your dice and take your chances. The claimant feeling empowered through CFAs, while UK media lawyers siphon grotesque profits from media law litigation.

The 100% uplift fee bonuses coupled with After The Event Insurance premiums in conditional free agreements have brought shame on the reputation of the country.

It is difficult to pinpoint whether the exorbitant defamation claims made against publishers came before publisher’s inclination to sensationalise stories to maximize profit, but in reality it doesn’t really matter. The end result was that each element of the equation sought to accentuate the other: publishers chasing higher profits to cover litigation, and claimants seeking higher damages to deter publication.

As the defamation environment became increasing feral, successive governments failed to deal with the problem despite repeated warnings and pleas from the newspaper, media industries and journalist organizations.

At their inception, some saw the creation of CFAs and ATE insurances as a natural leveler. An element that might make publishers think twice before running a story for fear that more people could now afford to action a defamation claim. In the feral defamation litigation market this may well have been a valid claim, but if there is a genuine move to clean up this area of media law (and the Institute thinks there should be) they should be reformed immediately.

There was no reason why the government should not have immediately implemented the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (the LASPO Act) to reform CFAs and to make the ATE insurance premium no longer recoverable from the losing party in respect of media law litigation.

By refusing to do so, the vast majority of media publishers and journalists continue to suffer the gross inequality of excessive financial punishment (through the exorbitant costs of media law insurance), and defending actions with the burden of proof. It is these underlying factors of injustice and self censorship which impacts greatly in investigative journalism – largely recognised as ‘the chilling effect.’

This is not the only recent action taken by government that has failed to make an impact on the defamation area of media law.

The Defamation Act 2013 failed to address the problem of the burden of proof being entirely on media defendants, an exceptional anomaly in the law of negligence. This unequal and illiberal burden has been extended to privacy actions, which are now being defined in the widely embracing phrase ‘misuse of private information’. The defendant now has to justify the ‘public interest’ in any such cases.

The Institute is sceptical whether the much heralded ‘liberal’ reforms in the Act will make any difference to the fact that England and Wales has the most oppressive media law regime against the interests of journalism and freedom of expression in the western world.

Consider the lack of action above, which leaves a mess, with the proposals as they stand now, and you have the potential for an even bigger mess.

The all party Royal Charter, taken in context of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, blackmails publishers into paying for an arbitration process that is cost draining whether they win or lose, or, face even greater sanctions in court. It is ludicrous to argue that this untried and inappropriate method of legal ‘carrot and stick’ regime can be considered as enhancing freedom of expression.

The proposed arbitration system is untried, under-researched and wholly inappropriate for constitutionally vital freedom of speech disputes that go to the heart of democratic accountability and civil liberty.

The legislation, which proposes exemplary/punitive damages, looks increasingly likely to be, incompatible with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Leveson Inquiry failed to properly research and consult on the wide range of alternatives. Dispute resolution, mediation, conciliation and restorative justice conferencing are recourses that promise true cost limiting routes of settlement, apology, and restitution. None have been considered.

The Institute wants to engage in an empirically informed and imaginative debate about media law reform in terms of criminological and tort malfeasance definition, genuine independent regulation and access to justice provisions which are free of cost penalism. A system that actually strips out the current damages regime that is disproportionate and oppressive and puts the UK at odds with the European civil law system as well as in juxtaposition with our common law cousin the USA.

 

Consultation questions

A. Scope: rule 44.19

Paragraphs 21 & 22. Question 1: Do you agree with the scope of the protection? If not, what should it cover?

No. See below.

21 (e) (e) harassment, where the defendant is a news publisher. The Protection of Harassment Act 1997 should never have been used against media publishers. Assurances in Parliament that it would not be used proved hollow. The state should never be in a position to legally construct media conduct and publication as a criminal offence and civil wrong of harassment or stalking.

It is now not uncommon for claimants to pursue media defendants for both libel and malicious falsehood – setting up a double jeopardy. English law should limit pursuance to an either, or.

22. Costs protection in a claimant biased legal arena of contestation and adversarial litigation, where the burden of proof entirely rests with media defendants seems radically unfair.

Also, section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and its substitution for an equitable legal costs regime by applying the penalty of full jeopardy for exemplary/punitive damages by refusing to comply with an oppressive Royal Charter regime of regulation, is a clear infringement of Article 10 Freedom of Expression and will generate adverse rulings against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights.

 

B. Process: rules 44.20–23

Paragraphs 23 to 28. Question 2: Do you agree with this process? If not, how should it be improved?

 

No. Because the burden of proof in most media law litigation (libel and privacy) is weighted unfairly on the defendant. Existing disincentives for vexatious actions based on failing claimants paying for the media defendants’ costs should remain whatever the status of the claimant. In the proposals, claimants of ‘modest means’ will still be able to launch unsuccessful actions against media defendants and rack up costs that will not be recoverable. Why shift the financial penalties from claimant to defendant when the dice on burden of proof are already loaded in favor of the claimant? While it is accepted that the burden of proof is on the claimant in relation to actions for malicious falsehood and harassment, such litigation is so rare that their inclusion in the legal costs protection debate is somewhat irrelevant.

Dividing claimants between modest means, mid group and substantial means sets up a class system for justice based on wealth, or lack of it. In any case, for the most part

the only category of party paying for the system will be media defendants, but as their ability to subsidize claimants’ litigation is diminishing in a declining economic context, most will recourse to self-censorial settlement. This will have a consequential chilling effect on freedom of expression

 

C. C. Means

(i) Modest means – full costs protection (‘nil net liability’): rule 44.22

Paragraphs 29 to 34.

Question 3: Do you agree with the approach of allowing full costs protection for those of modest means, partial (capped) protection for those in the ‘mid’ group, and no costs protection for those with substantial means? If not, what alternative regime should be adopted?

Question 4: Should there be any further clarification of the level of means for each group? If so, what levels of means would be appropriate?

Question 5: Do you agree that the test of ‘severe financial hardship’ is the right test to exclude the very wealthy – whether individuals or bodies (including, for example, national newspapers that report a loss)? If not, what is the appropriate test?

Question 6: Do you agree that a party in the ‘mid’ group should pay a ‘reasonable amount’? If not, what is the appropriate test?

No to questions 3 to 6. All of these provisions empower a dysfunctional system of injustice for media defendants. The costs of which are borne by the media, the outcome of which we have mentioned earlier in this document.

Question 8: What evidence do you have on the legal costs for claimants and defendants in defamation cases? We would be particularly interested in information on the average level of costs for each party and how this varies across cases.

Question 9: What evidence do you have on the financial means of claimants and defendants in defamation cases?

In answer to the above questions we would cite the spectre of the multi-millionaire super-model Naomi Campbell using no win, no fee CFA and ATE arrangements to secure a mere £3,500 in damages for breach of privacy/ confidentiality, but burdening Mirror Group Newspapers with legal costs of nearly £1 million quite rightly attracted the approbation of the European Court of Human Rights in MGN LIMITED v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 39401/04 [2011] ECHR 919 (9 June 2011) The costs regime was condemned as a breach of Article 10 Freedom of Expression.

The failure of the UK Government to act over this ruling led to the Court ordering the British state to pay damages and costs totaling 286,700 Euros in MGN LIMITED v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 39401/04 [2012] ECHR 993 (12 June 2012). This is a humiliating indictment of the failure of the British executive and legislature to show respect and understanding for freedom of expression and the freedom of the media in a democratic society.

In addition to consideration of the above we would urge the government to take full notice of any data and information available from the Newspaper Society, Society of Editors, and The Media Lawyers Association.

 

Question 10: What impact do you think the proposals will have on businesses? We would be particularly interested to understand the impact the proposals may have on Small and Medium sized Enterprises and Micro businesses, as both claimants and defendants.

The answer to Question 10 is that the impact will be disastrous. See earlier assessment of the cumulative impact in the context of recent legislation and the imposition of the all party agreed Royal Charter on press regulation.

These provisions multiply the jeopardy in media law disputes. They will substantially increase insurance premiums. They will divide media rights and routes for adjudication setting up one legal regime for mainstream print and online publishers, another for broadcasters, and another for ‘micro-publishers.’

Media freedom risks being suffocated and smashed by a claimant cheap but defendant expensive system of administrative compensation. Publishers start at the race for justice yoked by financial menaces.

The government is seeking to plunge media freedom litigation into the dustbin of non-jury, secretive, unaccountable, office justice, that will only serve the libel, privacy, and malicious falsehood ambulance chasers of the legal profession.

Print and online publishers may well find they have to shelve any investment plans in digital media expansion and saving jobs to pay for a nightmare doubling, tripling (perhaps more) of media legal and compliance services. In the absence of any credible research on the true impact of these reforms we are leaping into the unknown.

The proposals would do particularly serious damage to the local press, and inhibit it from fulfilling its duty to hold local centres of power to account

Every perspective and angle sets up a vista of discrimination and a confused, dysfunctional system of law and regulation. This will in future years cause more humiliating rulings at Strasbourg. The English legal system will emerge as the most notorious country in the world for privatized legal gagging and the bankrupting of freedom of the press and media.

The Defamation Act 2013, the Crime and Courts Act, the all Party Royal Charter on regulation of the Press, and costs protection in defamation and privacy claims provisions promise a perfect storm of chilling effect. Causing self-censorship, media litigation and compensation on a scale equivalent to the whiplash injury claiming insurance scandal, and will more than likely bring about the death of investigative journalism in this country.

The British media could easily descend into a dark age of insipid and uncritical, press release and publicists’ cheer leading propaganda.

More, sections 34 to 44 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 ‘Publishers of news-related material: damages and costs’ seeks to set up an additional chilling effect of punitive damages for media publishers not willing to be subjected to Royal Charter regulation of the press.

But the English legal system continues to operate awards of damages (usually up to a threshold of £250,000 and sometimes exceeding this level in settlements) which are by far in excess of anything in proportion to the emotional damage experienced by claimants and still not properly quantified in terms of actual material loss.

English media law damages are far in excess of either civil or criminal media law rulings in continental civil law jurisdictions such as France. English media lawyers charge costs well over one hundred times those charged by their colleagues in European jurisdictions. [See Comparative Study of Costs of Defamation Proceedings Across Europe, Oxford University 2009 (http://pcmlp.socleg.ox.ac.uk/research/project/comparative-study-costs-defamation-proceedings-across-europe)]

It is hard to imagine anything more punitive than the above examples but should courts find a way then the following case could well become key to proceedings:

The MGN v UK rulings are not the first time Britain’s oppressive media laws have been challenged by the court in Strasbourg. TOLSTOY MILOSLAVSKY v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 18139/91 – Chamber Judgment [1995] ECHR 25 (13 July 1995) condemned the ludicrous award of £1.5 in libel damages as not “necessary in a democratic society” and a violation of rights under Article 10.

 

D. Additional provisions

Confidentiality: rule 44.26(3)

Paragraphs 35 to 41.

Question 11: Do you agree with the proposed additional provisions? If not, how should they be improved?

Question 12: Should there be any specific provision in the rules concerning which party should pay the costs of an application for costs protection? If so, what should the provision be?

Questions 11 and 12 relate to a situation where the proposed costs protection system is in place with media litigation being subject to a largely claimant friendly and biased qualified one way costs shifting (QOCS) regime. It would seem that these additional provisions offer a methodology of fairness and adjustment should the system be abused as under paragraph 37 rule 44.27.

Maintaining confidentiality in relation to a party’s statement of assets would appear to be contrary to the interests of open justice. If ‘means’ are to be engaged in the justice process of media law litigation, then open scrutiny about such declarations and claims to the hierarchy of means status, is essential.

 

Question 13: Should the Pre-Action Protocol for Defamation be amended to take account of these new provisions? If so, how?

Question 13 raises an issue that is very difficult to resolve. Pre-Action Protocols for Defamation were designed to control legal costs indulgency. Subscribing to the myth of the impoverished media claimant victim and absolving a class of claimants from the legal costs responsibility of suing in a tort without even the burden of proof renders the Pre-Action Protocol somewhat meaningless.

 

Question 14: Do you have any comments on how the drafting of the rules might be improved?

We have said, in our introduction, that the Institute wishes to engage in an informed and imaginative debate on media law reform. As a start, we would offer the following as a start for debate.

The rules need to be deracinated and reduced to a basic framework of conditional fee agreements limited to obtaining a fixed proportion of damages won, where the damages are capped at £10,000 for the existing presumption of emotional damage.

The proper methodology for media civil wrongs would be a specialist High Court level infrastructure of litigated forum devoid of excessive CFAs and ATE insurance style policies. No win, no fee lawyers should only collect fees from a maximum of 25% of damages and libel damages.

For those dreadful libels causing proven financial and/or material damage, courts could have discretion to award ‘special’ additional damages to claimants as in the case with bodies that trade for profit in the new Defamation Act 2013.

Exemplary damages to be reserved for libels proven to be actuated by malice and reckless disregard for the truth to a maximum of no more than a further £10,000.

The burden of proof should be reconsidered to give more parity with all other forms of negligence. Finally all such processes should adhere to the open justice doctrine. Arbitration no doubt serves an excellent purpose in the construction industry. The bricks and mortar of freedom of expression need full exposure to the elements.

CIoJ challenges use of Royal Charters for Press regulation

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New Royal Charter for journalists but what about the existing one?

CIoJ logo

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is challenging the Government for failing to take into account the Institute’s own charter in creating a new press regulation body.

The CIoJ was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1890 and remains the oldest professional body for journalists in the world. It has a duty under that charter to uphold ethical and professional standards in the journalistic profession.

Institute President, Charlie Harris, said: “How can any proposal for a Royal Charter which ignores an existing charter make any sense or give the public any confidence that this is a credible way forward? To that end, we have submitted our own challenge to both the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the Privy Council.”

Among the points made by the CIoJ are that any voluntary scheme which relies on statutory coercion cannot be regarded as voluntary; that the idea of exemplary damages is unlikely to survive contact with any European Court and that there is nothing in either draft which would prevent the behaviour which led to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry in the first place.

Currently two charters have been submitted to the Privy Council – one with cross-party support (Government Charter) and another one from the Press Board of Finance (Pressbof Charter).

Mr Harris said: “The constitution of the new regulatory body has largely been framed as being between publisher and independent members and yet it is journalists who are best placed to recognise corporate wrong doing, or ethical failings and yet they are not offered a seat at the table.

“The Pressbof proposal reconstitutes the Press Complaints Commission with some tweaks which was the reason the inquiry was set up, but both charter proposals rely on statutory underpinning which the CIoJ believes flies in the face of an independent press.

“The public deserve not to be misled by disgruntled MPs and image-preening celebrities over Press regulation proposals. It is time these individuals come clean and admit that when the police do their job, there are perfectly acceptable laws that already exist to keep law-breakers, including those in journalism, in check.”

The CIoJ has submitted its consultation document 

Ends

 

Notes to Editors:

The CIoJ’s own charter was granted by Queen Victoria and includes:-

  • ‘The ascertainment of the law and practice relating to all things connected with the journalistic profession and the exercise of supervision over its members when engaged in professional duties.’
  • ‘Watching any legislation affecting the discharge by Journalists of their professional duties and endeavouring to obtain amendments of the law affecting journalists, their duties or interests.’
  • And: ‘Securing the advancement of Journalism in all its branches and obtaining for journalists as such formal and definite professional standing’