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Introduction to law

Introduction to media law for journalism students

Phil Chamberlain

on 17 November 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to law

Introduction to media law
How to report court without ending up in court
(and other essential skills)


Defamation: libel and slander
lowers them in the estimation of right-thinking members of the public and/or
causes them to be shunned or avoided and/or
disparages them in their business, trade, office or profession and/or
exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt.
Libel is determined on the ‘ordinary meaning of words’ – clever word play won’t wash
The more 'upstanding' the person the more cautious you should be about libel
You risk defaming someone if you repeat defamatory comments previously published by others - e.g. in newspapers - either by quoting them or using them in an interview or sound bite.
Libel covers comments made online
The publisher is responsible for whatever it publishes regardless of who actually says or writes the words. However, those people could also be sued.
You can defame someone by words alone, pictures alone (e.g. cartoons) or by the combination of words and pictures - moving, still or graphics.
You can defame a number of people or a company (but not a public body).
The risks
The claimant must prove:
1) it is defamatory (not that it is false)
2) it may be reasonably understood to refer to him
3) it has been published to third person.
The defences (stronger with Defamation Act 2013):
Justification: (accurate and fair)
Honest comment (no malice)
Reynolds (public interest)
Accord and satisfaction (settlement agreed)
Offer of amends (accidental)
Privilege (protected)
The Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Record, Daily Mail, Daily Star, The Scotsman and Daily Express paid Christopher Jeffries substantial libel damages, thought to total six figures
The aim is protection of a fair trial
Strict liability (no public interest)
The 1981 Contempt of Court Act comes into force when proceedings "are active" defined as when:
oral charge
service of a written charge
issue of a summons or arrest warrant
Note: "helping with inquiries" - check with the police
Key players in justice system...
The Police
Crown Prosecution Service
Magistrates Court
Crown Court
Other courts
Section 8 restrictions for indictable offences. What you can say:
name of the court
names, addresses and occupations of the parties
names of legal representatives
if proceedings are adjourned with the date and place
arrangements as to bail
whether legal was granted
the fact reporting restrictions are in force

Additionally you may see reported
Protestations of innocence
What they were wearing and other bland scene-setting material
Things to be aware of during trial
Report only what the jury hears while case is being heard
No recording in court
No sketching in court
Nothing to identify jurors
Absolute privilege but must be fair, accurate, contemporaneous and only covers reports of proceedings (not background material)
But you can tweet
Magistrates Court
Hear 95% of all cases and send most serious to Crown Court
Run by volunteer lay magistrates (the bench)
Usually three hear each case, assisted by a clerk - a qualified lawyer
Crown Courts deal with most serious offences
Heard by a judge
Decided on by a jury of 12 people
Other types of court:
Youth: no public admittance, anonymity for all (sec 49)
Family court - difficult to cover
Tribunal or public inquiry
Other issues to be aware of:
Anonymity for victims of sex offences
Section 11 orders: blackmail, secret, personal safety
Civil Courts:
Resolve private disputes and redress private wrongs such as: companies or individuals suing for damages, debt recovery
Lower level of proof
Qualified privilege
No jury
Tribunals and public inquiries:
Legal bodies which adjudicate on disputes in specialist areas of law such as:
rent disputes
mental health
professional disciplinary hearings
Also: assessed on balance of probabilities and without a jury
Privilege: protection to allow proper debate, judicial or parliamentary proceedings
1) Absolute: court proceedings (with certain provisos), Parliament, European Court of Justice, any international criminal tribunal
2) Qualified: court proceedings anywhere in the world, public meetings, public authority meetings, statements issued by public bodies.
Requirements: fair, accurate, without malice
Key question: who owns it?

What is substantial?
Fair dealing (but not for photos)
Public interest
Incidental infringement and publicly displayed works of art
Open content licences (Creative Commons)

Privacy: balancing 8 and 10
Hand in your module
feedback please
protects what has been created by artistic and intellectual endeavour including (but not limited to)...
all kinds of texts
computer software
TV programmes
Unauthorised copying in whole or 'substantial part' is an offence
There is no copyright in unrecorded ideas or facts, news or information (it is the presentation or arrangement that is covered).
A breach of confidence
Reasonable expectation of privacy: the Mosely case. A £60,000 victory against the News of the World after it published a story about him engaging in a sado-masochistic orgy with prostitutes which had a Nazi theme (the latter bit was wrong).
Naoimi Campbell: public interest
Injunctions and super injunctions: protecting privacy (if you can afford it)
Codes of Conduct: intrusion requires public interest, but ruled out in some cases
Sensitive areas: children, health
Info laws: DPA, WTA, RIPA
Full transcript