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

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-20

27 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2010 Last revised: 18 Dec 2011

Jason John Bosland

University of Melbourne; University of Melbourne - Centre for Media and Communications Law

Date Written: June 2, 2010

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bosland, Jason John, Republication of Defamation under the Doctrine of Reportage - The Evolution of Common Law Qualified Privilege in England and Wales (June 2, 2010). Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Forthcoming; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1619735

Jason John Bosland (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

University of Melbourne - Centre for Media and Communications Law ( email )

Victoria 3010
Australia

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