Republication of Defamation under the Doctrine of Reportage - The Evolution of Common Law Qualified Privilege in England and Wales
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Forthcoming
27 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2010 Last revised: 18 Dec 2011
Date Written: June 2, 2010
This paper examines the ‘doctrine of reportage’ - a particular application of the ‘Reynolds’ qualified privilege defence to defamation recognised by the House of Lords in Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd. The doctrine of reportage provides protection for the neutral reporting (republication) of defamatory allegations made by others in the context of a dispute or controversy of public interest. It is argued in this paper, however, that this emerging defence is doctrinally distinct from the privilege recognised in Reynolds and that its jurisprudential basis needs to be reconsidered. Moreover, the development of the defence under the guise of Reynolds privilege has led to confusion, both by courts and by commentators, as to its potential breadth. It is suggested that the public interest justifications underpinning the reportage defence need to be explicitly re-examined by the courts in order to define its proper scope. Following an examination of these public interest justifications, it is argued that a broad interpretation of the defence should be rejected.
Keywords: Doctrine of reportage, public interest
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