Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (218)

Bobby Aylward


218. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the review of the Defamation Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38464/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department is currently finalising the statutory review of the Defamation Act 2009. I expect a draft report with options for reform, including possible proposals for legislative change, to be submitted to me in the coming weeks.

The Review is addressing all of the issues raised in submissions made to it, including those that featured in a recent campaign by the print media. These include:

- whether changes should be made to the respective roles of the judge and the jury in High Court defamation cases; and

- whether any change should be made to the level or type of damages which may be awarded in defamation cases, or to the factors to be taken into account in making that determination.

The objective set for the defamation review from the outset was to ensure that our defamation law strikes the right balance between protecting an individual’s good name and privacy. Furthermore, our defamation law must protect the right to freedom of expression, taking account of the vital role played by a free and independent press in our democracy.

This is an important and complex area of legal reform and I can assure the Deputy that is a priority for me and for my Department.