Written Answers. - Libel Law Reform.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

88 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for reform of the libel laws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27652/01]

Legislative proposals to amend the civil law of defamation and recast it within a more satisfactory legislative framework are being advanced as part of the Government's legislative programme and my Department is, at present, finalising its work on the scheme of a Bill which I intend to bring before Government for approval in the near future.

Pending the submission of the scheme to Government, it would not be appropriate for me to go into detail about its likely content. However, Deputies will be aware that I have indicated in the past that the proposed Bill will take account of recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission and others for changes in this area of the law. Also, in very broad terms, I have indicated that there is merit in ensuring that remedies other than damages should be put at the disposal of the courts in particular circumstances. Issues surrounding the making of an apology need to be clarified and it is also desirable to remove certain anomalies in the area of lodgments into court.

This is an area of the law where it is necessary to ensure that an appropriate balance is maintained between the right to a good name and the right to freedom of expression and I am determined the legislative proposals which are in prospect will give due weight to this balance.