Defamation Act now in force

The Defamation Act 2013, in force since 1 January 2014, reforms the law of defamation in the UK. The Act aims to balance the right to freedom of expression and people’s ability to protect their reputation. It introduces a new serious harm threshold, which is meant to discourage trivial claims that harm freedom of speech. The Defamation Act provides protection for those who are publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that publication is in the public interest.

If individuals think an online statement is defamatory, they can first try to resolve the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement. This offers better protection for the operators of websites hosting user-generated content.

The Defamation Act was given Royal Assent on 25 April 2013 and entered into force on 1 January 2014.