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Positive result for media lobby on defamation

A positive outcome has been achieved for the UK media lobby, with the European Parliament adopting a media- friendly final position on the Rome II Regulation - the law applicable to cross-border defamation claims.

The Parliament adopted an amendment proposed by MEP Diana Wallis which establishes that in the case of defamation by publication or broadcast, the country whose law is applicable, should be the country to which the broadcast is principally directed at. If this is not apparent, it should be the country in which editorial control is exercised.

AOP, PPA and other media organisations fought hard to have this wording adopted by the Parliament. Wallis attended a meeting at PPA offices with AOP and PPA members and strategic partners in October.

While the Parliament position is favourable and a considerable improvement on the initial wording which made the applicable law that of the country of destination, exclusion of defamation from the regulation altogether would be an even more favourable outcome for publishers, as there is currently no real problem with cross-border defamation claims for UK publishers.

Rome II will now go to Council at the end of the month for its opinion. Council wants to exclude defamation from the scope of the Regulation - thus maintaining the status quo. This is the most likely outcome but it may require a conciliation procedure if there is no agreement to establish whether the Parliament amendment or the Council position will prevail. After that the final outcome of a long-running saga will be known. Either way, legal certainty for members and other publishers in the field of defamation will be secured.

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