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← SPEECH Act now a law: big win for libel reform!

SPEECH Act now a law: big win for libel reform! - Comments

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 1 by mordacious1

When I click on "Continue Reading" I get "The Page You Were Looking for Doesn't Exist".

I suppose this law was necessary in order to prevent ISP's from taking down material because of lawsuits in the UK, but I would think that the First Amendment covered this...UK law is overridden by the Constitution. But at least it's a nice statement of support for free speech.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:25:46 UTC | #506791

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 2 by huzonfurst

This is great news! As a victim of a frivolous lawsuit myself in the US, I know how nightmarish fighting these things can be. The next thing we need to do is to implement "loser pays" here, which would significantly discourage the kind of bottom feeders that file suits like this.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:30:57 UTC | #506793

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 3 by Fouad Boussetta

Excellent news. Barack Obama, you're great. I just hope your crazy job won't burn you out.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 01:44:35 UTC | #506816

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 4 by Neodarwinian

Hear, hear!

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 03:43:16 UTC | #506848

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 5 by Stevehill

This is really all very muddled. Let's be clear: Simon Singh did not libel anyone. He won his case. Yes, he had some grief over the matter waiting for an outcome, but in a free society you can't stop people suing each other - often for trivial, unwinnable claims - unless you believe it is fair to start denying people access to justice.

The poster child of this ludicrous US campaign, Rachel Ehrenfeld, published an unevidenced, unproven allegation that three people were bankrolling terrorism. That is seriously defamatory. The High Court found that this was not true, as a matter of fact. Further, Ms Ehrenfeld declined to attend court in person or by legal representation, and declined to offer any evidence in support of her allegations. Ditto her publishers. The court had no choice but to find against her.

Every one of the 30-odd British Commonwealth countries broadly follows the UK's libel law, as does most of the European Union and many, many other countries.

It is the US libel law (since the New York Times v Sullivan case which requires a libel victim to prove there was actual malice in the mind of the libeller - an near impossible hurdle) which is wholly out of step with the rest of the world.

This has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with allowing Kate and Gerry McCann access to justice after most British tabloid newspapers insinuated that they had done away with their missing daughter Madeleine. It has to do with two minimum wage nursery nurses who were wholly wrongly accused by public officials of being paedophiles and whose careers were effectively ruined for life: they could never have cleared their names without no-win, no-fee lawyers taking up their case.

The UK libel reform movement is strongly supported by the UK press (who of course want to be free to libel anyone without consequences, American style - they are hardly independent on the matter). Their wish-list is infantile, including e.g. a £10,000 cap on damages payable. That's really going to compensate two innocent child carers for the loss of career and several years' loss of earnings, isn't it?

Libel is not a big deal in the UK. There are about 200 claims a year issued, out of millions of civil litigation claims for other matters. Probably 99% of the outcomes in the libel cases are uncontentious, and would be found to be uncontentious by any fair-minded lawyer in any jurisdiction. For the 1%, we have appeal courts. People like Ehrenfeld may not like the result, but that does not make it a "wrong" result.

Yes - it costs money. So do all civil proceedings. You can't avoid that unless you want to employ all lawyers as public servants on fixed, low salaries. After you, America...

Historically free societies have, by and large, reciprocally enforced the judgements of each other's courts. The US has now legislated not to do this. That is a retrograde step, and frankly somewhat hostile. UK libel reform remains on the agenda (although the eventual reforms will be far more modest than the free speech jihadists would like), and one of our Supreme Court judges, Lord Lester of Herne Hill has already drafted a Bill.

Presumably once that Bill or something like it is passed, America will stop throwing its toys around like a petulant four year old, repeal its own kneejerk law, and rejoin the community of nations?

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 07:38:38 UTC | #506875

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 6 by Adrian Bartholomew

Comment 5 by Stevehill :

free speech jihadists

I beg your pardon? I actually agree with a lot of your points but I think you might be wise to avoid phrases like that because that just made me chuckle which I suspect was not your aim.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 07:55:49 UTC | #506882

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 7 by Stevehill

... an early casualty of any tit-for-tat reaction may well be the US-UK Extradition Treaty, an abysmal document signed in 2003 in the heat of war-on-terror panic, and which has so far been abused to imprison in the US such notorious "terrorists" as three London bankers who lent money to Enron.

The next victim could well be Aspergers' victim and UFO-obsessive computer hacker Gary McKinnon. The US wants him to face a court which could sentence him to 70 years in prison because he discovered that a number of no-brain imbeciles in the Pentagon had never bothered to change their password from "password". He could (and should) be prosecuted in the UK, where he committed the offences (which he admits) and for which he would almost certainly get a non-custodial sentence and have to pick up litter for a few weeks.

David Cameron said in the election campaign that he opposed McKinnon's extradition. There will be outrage in the UK if it now happens. As far as I can read the runes, talks are taking place with the US to agree for him to serve any sentence in the UK: good old-fashioned diplomacy - what the US should have thought about doing as regards libel.

The Cohen Act is proving to be an extremely effective weapon for alienating the US's greatest friend and ally - along with the hysteria over BP and the ludicrous assumption by a Senate Committee that they have a right to "summon" English Ministers and company directors to explain a decision of the Scottish government. We - and Scotland - make our own laws, thanks all the same. That's what democracies do.

P.S. For "jihadists", would "fundamentalists" do?

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 08:02:55 UTC | #506885

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 8 by Adrian Bartholomew

The McKinnon case really gets my goat. What were we thinking allowing that to get as far as it has.

Comment 7 by Stevehill :

P.S. For "jihadists", would "fundamentalists" do?

Not really no. Still a bit silly. Lets face it, the reality of the people you are referring to are the big media conglomerates that want the ability to lie and destroy people they don't like with no repercussions. Lumping me, who almost certainly wants more free speech than you would think reasonable, with the media giants and labeling us all as "jihadists" or "fundamentalists" seems a bit comical.

On the issue at hand, it is such a shame we didn't do something about our, UK, system which was also out of step with the world norms so that this law would not have even been proposed.

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 08:17:19 UTC | #506890

greenwich's Avatar Comment 9 by greenwich

Bravo, Stevehill, I agree entirely. The UK press has been busy for years telling its readers that UK libel laws have a "chilling effect" on freedom, because, as you say, they want to be free to lie about people without consequences.

Lord Lester is not a supreme court judge. But, speaking of the supreme court, it has already done lasting damage by its Reynolds and Jameel judgements. Briefly, for people who do not know, Mr Jameel is a Saudi Arabian businessman. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox News, published a story that he was suspected of financing terrorism. He sued them in the UK courts and initially won, but the supreme court ruled in favour of the newspaper, by establishing the doctrine that a 'responsible' newspaper can't be sued for printing lies in a matter of public interest. That was why the BCA only sued Simon Singh and not The Guardian as well.

UK libel laws strike a fair balance already between people's right to not be lied about and newspapers' right to report in the public interest. Obama has now made it possible for Americans to lie about Britons and other foreigners with impunity. Am I exaggerating if I see this as part of a pattern which includes the US's insistence that its citizens cannot be tried for crimes against humanity?

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 08:35:58 UTC | #506897

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 10 by Stevehill

@greenwich: you're quite right, Lord Lester has not sat in the supreme court, though he has been a High Court judge.

http://www.blackstonechambers.com/people/barristers/lord_lester_of_herne.html

I agree the Reynolds and Jameel cases alone justify cleaning up the law. But we're talking about tweaks, not a Defamers' Charter which the reformists seem to want.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 09:04:05 UTC | #506903

greenwich's Avatar Comment 11 by greenwich

The other piece of rubbish that needs to be challenged in this article above by Phil Plait is this:

In the UK, when sued, you have to prove the claim is false, the opposite of the way it works in most of the rest of the world, including the US. It should be up to the prosecution to prove the claim is true. So in the UK this puts undue burden on the person accused, an almost guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.

There is no "prosecution" in a libel case, since libel cases are civil, so the reference to the presumption of innocence rule is bogus. What is Phil Plait really saying here? If I called him a paedophile and a terrorist, does he think that it should be up to me to prove it, or does he think that it's up to him to provide enough evidence to convince the jury that he's not a paedophile and a terrorist?

The burden of proof in libel cases in the UK is exactly the same as it is in all civil cases: each party has to provide evidence to prove whatever it is they are claiming is true.

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 09:24:02 UTC | #506909

sandman67's Avatar Comment 12 by sandman67

buckle on your helmet boyo cos here comes a broadside...

1) Are you idiot cousins over the pond there incapable of passing laws that dont have a snappy twatty acronym? Childish or what?

2) When you over there have a coherent uniform legal system instead of 50 different ones held loosely together by Federal glue THEN you get to criticise ours. When your courts are NOT three ring circuses staffed by the shabbiest of snake oil salesmen where money dictates the verdict THEN you get to criticise our system. When you can tell the difference between a court of law and a TV studio THEN you get to criticise our system. When your courts are NOT just get rich quick schemes for lawyers THEN you get to criticise others.

3) Your idiot laws and constituted free speech so called freedoms are an open licence for liars, hypocrites, demagogues and snake oil salesmen of all stripes to mouth whatever unproven unevidenced nonsense they like unfettered by the need for truth or accuracy or legal restraints. Beck, Limbaugh, The Birthers, the Truthers, The Vacciners, The Wedgies, The militias, the survivalists, Tea Baggers, Alex "NWO FEMA Death Camps" Jones, Westboro, Faux News......."muck rakers" as Mr Roosevelt so rightly branded them.....

woken up yet or still in a brain dead coma from choking on those freedom pretzels?

I really dont know why any of us Euros bother trying to get the point across.

If you are too pig ignorant and deluded to draw the very obvious line between point (3) above, and the logical end result... Tim McViegh, The Elohim and The Huttaree Militias of the USA.... then we are wasting our breath.

You carry on choking to death on that free speech clown,

we will carry on laughing our asses off at you.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 11:07:39 UTC | #506931

Nairb's Avatar Comment 13 by Nairb

Sandman67 Thanks for your rational calm and interesting post

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 11:52:47 UTC | #506949

Layla's Avatar Comment 14 by Layla

I'm confused. Who had to prove what in the Simon Singh case?

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 13:03:37 UTC | #506994

greenwich's Avatar Comment 15 by greenwich

Comment 14 by Layla :

I'm confused. Who had to prove what in the Simon Singh case?

Simon Singh had to prove that what he wrote about the British Chiropractors Association was true. That's how libel cases work. The person who writes the words has to justify them. In the event, I think the judge ruled that what Singh wrote could be regarded as fair comment, which is allowed.

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 13:19:17 UTC | #507000

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 16 by Stevehill

"Simon Singh had to prove that what he wrote about the British Chiropractors Association was true. That's how libel cases work."

As you say, it would also have been enough to show his words were fair comment (whether or not true)...

However, there was no final ruling in the case (sadly, but perhaps happily for Simon Singh's bank manager). The quacks had won a preliminary issue point that the term "bogus" could be presumed to be defamatory. That was overturned on appeal, leaving a trial court to decide whether or not the whole article, in context, could be libellous. Before such a trial could take place, the quacks sensibly withdrew their claim and paid costs to Singh (not necessarily all of his costs - but that's the system).

@Layla: you can't prove a negative. It is up to the writer/publisher of a libel to show that they were justified in using the words they used. If they've done no homework or fact checking, they are probably in trouble. A lot of individual posts on this site may well be actionable.

What is monstrously wrong is the US "actual malice" test. So a pair of loving parents, both professional doctors, have their daughter kidnapped and never recovered, and the media are free to say they must have done her in themselves. And unless the grieving parents can prove that the press were motivated only my personal malice against them, they have no comeback at all. That's the crock of shit that is US libel law, all "justified" in the name of freedom of speech and helping the National Enquirer to make a profit regardless of its congenital inability to recruit a fact checker.

I guess Americans are expected to "just know" when their media are lying to them. Hence shock jocks, Glenn Beck, Laura Schesinger et al... be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 14:12:25 UTC | #507027

greenwich's Avatar Comment 17 by greenwich

Comment 16 by Stevehill :

That's the crock of shit that is US libel law, all "justified" in the name of freedom of speech and helping the National Enquirer to make a profit regardless of its congenital inability to recruit a fact checker.

And, ironically, when WikiLeaks published something (outside the US) which might be thought to be just the sort of thing which the first amendment was designed to protect, i.e. facts which the government wants covered up but which the governed ought to know, they were condemned as irresponsible and criminal by some American commentators and politicians.

Updated: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 15:16:39 UTC | #507055

Layla's Avatar Comment 18 by Layla

I agree with you SteveHill. I simply couldn't grasp what the article above was saying but it seems to me that the UK has it the right way around. I mean, how can I be expected to have to prove that I'm not whatever someone chooses to say about me?

Why is this site in favour of changing the UK libel laws?

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 15:23:56 UTC | #507061

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 19 by Stevehill

"Why is this site in favour of changing the UK libel laws?"

Is it only conjecture to suggest that once or twice RD's editors may have had to ask him, on legal advice, to tone down a finely honed polemic against some religious nutter or other?

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 16:54:40 UTC | #507096

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 20 by huzonfurst

Stevehill, you seem entirely unconcerned about the cost in both money and anguish that people suffer when sued unjustly. My immediate, emotional response to this is that you are so out of touch with the majority of people that you just don't get it, and that a sniffy, elitist defense of a system that allows such injustices to occur on a regular basis is preferred to actually caring about real people.

There has to be a better way to control frivolous and malicious lawsuits or people will get more and more disgusted with the law and see it as an enemy rather than a friend. You can guess where I am on that continuum.

At least Britain has some kind of loser pays, but to get any compensation for "winning" an unjust lawsuit in the US you have to pay more money to another lawyer and file another lawsuit, with no guarantee you'll win anything back. On top of that, over here in the Wild West the first thing a judge will tell you when you do win a judgment is that "The Court is not a collection agency," so you are facing another hassle in actually collecting the money.

I do agree with you on one thing, however, and that is the appalling misuse of free speech by our right-wing nuts to flat-out lie on a daily basis in the public media. Why the hell are they allowed to get away with it so blatantly?!

I think the solution may be national legal care, similar to national health care - something else we lack in Jesusland.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 19:13:43 UTC | #507155

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Comment 21 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 20 by huzonfurst :

I do agree with you on one thing, however, and that is the appalling misuse of free speech by our right-wing nuts to flat-out lie on a daily basis in the public media. Why the hell are they allowed to get away with it so blatantly?!

Because, as another poster mentioned, it's nearly impossible to prove a negative. Can you prove that President Obama is not a Muslim and is a U.S. citizen?

Hence, the way the UK system works.

It should be noted that either form is going to have people taking advantage of it, and it's an oversimplification to say that one side has to prove it and the other doesn't -- in any civil case both sides present evidence. The goal of that evidence is the only thing that differs. I personally (as an American) think the UK system makes more sense, simply because it's so difficult to prove a negative, while it is not too hard to prove a positive. For example, if I could call a lot of credible witnesses that heard President Obama's conversion to Islam, or if I could produce a certified birth certificate with his name on it from Kenya. Not that I believe any of that nonsense.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 23:07:18 UTC | #507214

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara

Comment 20 by huzonfurst

I think the solution may be national legal care, similar to national health care - something else we lack in Jesusland.

I agree. I think we need a "National Legal Service" in the UK too.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 23:22:28 UTC | #507216

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 23 by Stevehill

@huzonfurst

"Stevehill, you seem entirely unconcerned about the cost in both money and anguish that people suffer when sued unjustly. My immediate, emotional response to this is that you are so out of touch with the majority of people that you just don't get it, and that a sniffy, elitist defense of a system that allows such injustices to occur on a regular basis is preferred to actually caring about real people."

Let me first say that you're wrong. Let me secondly say that I've spent 35 years in courts as a professional (civil) litigant and as an expert witness, and I know more about the UK civil litigation process than I ever wanted to. I've had in my personal name (and personal risk as to costs if I got it badly wrong) 250 cases running at any one time, and one mistake could have bankrupted me and left my wife and kids with no home and no income. (I was an insolvency practitioner, with other people's rights of action personally vested in me).

Let me thirdly say: There. Are. No. Injustices. All libel verdicts in the UK are in accordance with a perfectly reasonable, evolved, developed legal system, one followed in many countries. The fact that a few tub-thumpers in the USA (and about six UK newspapers) don't like it, is a matter of complete indifference to me. They don't get a vote.

Let me fourthly say that costs are a product of any country's civil procedure rules. Ours are, broadly, fair and controlled by courts. It's not just about libel - it's about debt, divorce, adoption, immigration and anything else than might get fairly taken to a civil court. It is tough shit if you get sued "unjustly". We don't know it's unjust till the end of the trial. That's the rules of the game. You don't like it, go and live somewhere less democratic: there is no alternative.

Let me fifthly say that writers and their publishers know the rules of the game. If they still choose to libel people they know what they are in for.

Let me sixthly say that the only way to control costs in all civil proceedings is to impoverish lawyers. It is not going to happen: too many of them are in the legislature.

"I do agree with you on one thing, however, and that is the appalling misuse of free speech by our right-wing nuts to flat-out lie on a daily basis in the public media. Why the hell are they allowed to get away with it so blatantly?!"

Because you don't have a decent libel law to prevent it.

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 23:23:33 UTC | #507217

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 24 by huzonfurst

There. Are. No. Injustices.

It is tough shit if you get sued "unjustly".

Wow - as I said, completely out of touch. My opinion of lawyers just took another nose-dive - sometimes I wonder how it's possible to get any lower, but you have shown me how.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 03:29:18 UTC | #507251

EvN's Avatar Comment 25 by EvN

@ huzonfurst

Wow - as I said, completely out of touch. My opinion of lawyers just took another nose-dive - sometimes I wonder how it's possible to get any lower, but you have shown me how.

Please try to understand what SteveHill is saying. Let me put it in very simple terms:

In just about all civilised jurisdictions, the plaintiff has to prove his case. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant's publication was defamatory. If the plaintiff cannot show defamation, end of story. If the plaintiff gets over that hurdle, the defendant can show that the statement was true, in the public interest or fair comment. If the defendant cannot show this, his publication was defamatory. End of story.

The US system requires the plaintiff to show, in addition, that the publication was made maliciously. This means that pure lies and conjecture, devoid of any truth, can be printed as long as the defandant can show that there was no "actual malice" involved. This is why the US press has a "free pass" to print the biggest load of rubbish without having to worry much about consequences.

This is not protection of free speech. This is protection of lying speech and this is the reason why forum shopping is popular. The US system does not afford justice to either the plaintiff nor the defendant. The UK system does as is evidenced by the Simon Singh case.

All civil litigation is expensive and time consuming - not only cases of defamation.

Comity between nations require that judgments of one nation be respected in another. This is one of the pillars of International Law. The US made a huge mistake by enacting this legislation. It will, possibly, stop forum shopping, but it does not address the underlying defect in US law.

Phil Plait clearly does not have a good grasp of the UK law of defamation or the basic principles of civil law. He muddles civil and criminal law regarding the onus of proof, who instigates the case etc. This is a very bad piece of writing and is not useful at all in clearing up the issues.

As an aside: Attacking SteveHill on a personal basis does you no credit. Steve obviously knows what he is talking about and I advise you to heed his opinion and think about the broader issues he raises.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 07:58:35 UTC | #507289

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 26 by Stevehill

I'm not a lawyer: my profession was accountancy for what it's worth. But I believe in access to justice. A court is simply a forum for resolving disputes within a community. Denying or limiting the rights of members of the community to access the courts is denying them justice.

People have a basic right to make a claim, whether it's for the "injury" done to them by a libel, or the injury done to them by a drunk driver or a loose paving stone. If my neighbour thinks (wrongly) that my new garden fence encroaches on his property he's got a right to sue me - even if he ends up losing. The law makes no distinction as to which case gets a right to be heard in court. Nor should it.

For a claimant - like the definitely-not-paedophile nursery workers Lillie and Read - their right to access the civil justice system is facilitated by the fact that a lawyer was willing to act for them on a no-win, no-fee basis. If they lost the claim, the lawyer does not get paid. I heard yesterday about a lawyer losing costs of £500,000 in a (non-libel) piece of civil litigation acting on such a basis. But I still get spam emails and so on from lawyers and claims aggregators wanting to act on this basis.

It is equally open to defendant in a libel case to seek a lawyer willing to act on a no-win no-fee basis. Also, most newspapers, publishers etc (and more than a few writers in controversial fields) carry legal expenses insurance, for which - yes - they pay annual premiums. It is also possible to purchase after-the-event insurance for legal costs, after the claim has arisen. It's not exactly cheap, but it does put a finite limit on your exposure.

Put together, all of these systems sort of work for most of the people most of the time. Nobody pretends litigation is cheap. But there are reasonably robust systems in place to help litigants manage costs risks.

It is also unfair to hold out false hope to people to suggest that somehow you can wave a wand to make it all cheaper.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 08:25:20 UTC | #507295

greenwich's Avatar Comment 27 by greenwich

@stevehill:

I was in agreement with you until now but must now say adios. It's you who now appears to have a fundamentalist view of the UK legal system. A few points in reply to your posts above:

It's an absurd piece of dogma to say that there are no injustices. It does not need refutation so I'll say no further about it.

Legal costs in the UK may be reasonable in many cases but they are not in libel cases. If I sue a UK newspaper for libel, they will employ the most expensive lawyers in the business. Their fees will run into tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds. I could never take the risk of starting such a case, even if I knew I had been lied about, unless some lawyer agreed to take my case on a no-win no-fee basis.

To say that it's tough shit if you get sued unjustly is a shocking example of "why can't everyone be like me"-ism.

It's ludicrous to say that the US press prints lies because they have no decent libel law. If you were correct, then UK newspapers would be truthful and reliable. Are they? We both know the answer.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 10:01:40 UTC | #507312

Cestriana's Avatar Comment 28 by Cestriana

Whether Gary McKinnon is tried here in the UK or in the USA I cannot begin to imagine how he will cope with the experience of being cross-examined by very vociferous and aggressive lawyers. For sure he will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but because, generally speaking, people with Asperger syndrome are not criminally-minded; they are not slick, nor do they make for good liars or deceivers. Invariably they do not understand irony, nor do they pick up on 'double-speak' innuendo, and their reading of body-language is appalling bad. Such is the nature of their disability.

As far as I can see McKinnon trespassed rather naively where he ought not to, committing a serious crime into the bargain. However, perhaps NASA et al should be glad that some computer nerd Aspie was able to expose the inadequacy of their computer security. I would imagine that they are too embarrassed to admit it.

Updated: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 11:15:42 UTC | #507352

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 29 by Stevehill

@greenwich: yes, there are miscarriages of justice - the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Sally Clarke, Angela Canning. What I am saying is the civil justice system is not designed to create more injustices - it is designed to minimise them. For instance in UK courts the parties are obliged to try forms of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration before even getting to court, to avoid if possible the costs of court proceedings.

Huzonfurst was taking a position that all libel claims are unjust (as it seems is the US government). But within the UK legal system they are all "just" in so far as they give someone with a grievance his day in court: which is not to say that unwinnable claims may not occasionally be brought for silly or trivial reasons, but cost issues alone should be a sufficient deterrent to most vexatious litigants.

Hundreds of very clever people have looked at the topic of costs from every angle: there are no silver bullets. The latest contribution, from Lord Justice Jackson, is a reasonable steer as to what further reforms may happen - and none of that is going to change the fundamentals of libel costs for claimants or defendants. Changing the fundamentals entails depriving someone of their right to their preferred Counsel.

Crazy litigation exists everywhere. A guy in America flew his Cessna nito the side of a mountain. His widow successfully sued Cessna for $10 million on the grounds that he should not have been able to fly the plane without wearing a seatbelt. I expect the defendants used pretty expensive lawyers too.

What do you want to do? Ban courts?

@Cestriana: McKinnon has said he will plead guilty if tried in the UK. There will then be no witnesses and no cross-examination - just sentencing. Which would probably spare the pentagon a lot of embarrassment....

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 11:37:04 UTC | #507361

Cestriana's Avatar Comment 30 by Cestriana

@Stevehill

And if the extradition goes ahead and he's prosecuted in the USA, do we know what the charge will be?

I'm just curious.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 12:09:12 UTC | #507375