Pair of Brits win libel cases

by   |  02.16.06  |  Current Events

Performer Elton John and politician George Galloway prevailed in libel disputes against the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph, respectively. Se the stories here and here.

I made the point in class today that it’s much easier to win a libel verdict in England than it is in the United States, especially if you’re a public figure. Here are three key differences:

1. England has no actual malice defense, which means famous people just have to prove negligence and in some cases there’s strict liability.

2. British courts recognize presumed damages, which means plaintiffs don’t have to put people on the stand to show their reputation has been damaged.

3. Most importantly, falsity is not an element of the case. The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove the truth of a statement. So truth is not only the ultimate defense, it’s almost essential.