A system for press regulation in the UK based on the Leveson Report has been approved, though not without political drama. Will a proposed arbitration scheme for civil legal claims against the press be workable?
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IN THE UK, LORD JUSTICE Leveson, in his long-awaited report, recommended that an arbitral process, described as an "Arbitration Service", should be established in relation to civil legal claims against the press. He refers to the press as "the publishers" and this how they will be referenced in this piece.
Lord Leveson says this service should draw on independent legal experts of high reputation and ability "on a cost- only basis" to the publishers who subscribe to his proposed self-regulation scheme. The process should be fair, quick and inexpensive, inquisitorial and generally free for claimants. There should be power to hold hearings, but only when necessary. Frivolous and vexatious claims should be capable of being struck out at an early stage. The devil is in the detail.
The report goes on to say that incentives are required to ensure that publishers sign up to the self-regulatory scheme. The recommendations couple this incentive for publishers with the incentive for the public of providing an improved route to justice for individuals by the establishment of an arbitration service, run by the regulator and staff ed by retired judges or senior lawyers, whose fees would be met by the publishers...