NIHRC Response to the Department of Finance Consultation on the Review of Defamation Law in NI
Date produced: January 2024.
Below is a summary of the Commission's recommendations and messages.
You can also download the full document through the links provided.
The NI Human Rights Commission advises and recommends:
2.9 The NIHRC recommends that the Department of Finance should ensure that defamation law in NI strikes a fair balance between freedom of expression and the right to private life, either by working with the NI Assembly to amend the Defamation Act (NI) 2022, or introducing additional safeguards to complement the Act.
3.5 The NIHRC recommends that the Department of Finance gives detailed consideration to an amendment to the Defamation Act (NI) 2022 to include a serious harm threshold akin to that which exists in defamation law in other UK jurisdictions which takes account of ECtHR jurisprudence.
4.5 The NIHRC recommends that the Department of Finance works with relevant bodies to ensure that relevant data on libel cases heard in NI is collected, accessibly published, monitored and evaluated, including cases resolved outside of court.
5.9 The NIHRC recommends that the Department of Finance works with the NI Executive and NI Assembly to introduce legislation to tackle strategic lawsuits against public participation in line with its obligations under international human rights law.
5.10 The NIHRC further recommends that the Department of Finance, as a matter of good practice, monitor any enhancement to human rights pursuant to the proposed EU directive on strategic lawsuits against public participation and, if adopted, ensure NI law aligns on a voluntary basis with such changes.
6.5 The NIHRC recommends that the Department of Finance considers all relevant options available to mitigate the costs and other potential barriers to access to justice for all regarding defamation claims in NI.