A fresh take on the pre-action steps for defamation law – Dispute resolution

The New Protocol…

Those who follow this area with an interest may be aware that, following the formation of the Media and Communications List of the High Court in 2017, there has been an update to the Pre-action Protocol for Defamation Claims. The new protocol, now taking account of claims such as those including data protection law, claims in breach of confidence, and malicious falsehood, has been named the Pre-Action Protocol for Media and Communications Claims, and is in effect from 1 October 2019.

The new protocol will become relevant to those who seek to rely on multiple bases for a proposed claim against another – often, there is not just one, but many – but also as a useful starting point when formulating a letter of claim, often the first step made in claims of this type, and an important one at that.

It is made clear that the courts will treat the standards of the new protocol as the normal reasonable approach for parties to a claim that falls under its purview. That, of course, leaves those who operate outside of its ambit at risk of criticism and, in extreme cases, their opponent’s legal costs. It is imperative, therefore, that whilst any claim is pursued in a timely fashion – particularly given that claims in defamation and malicious falsehood cases are subject to a limitation period of 12 months – due consideration is paid where it is expected. The aims of the protocol are there to help, not hinder, and as often is the case, can be a useful starting point in forming a strategy to resolve a dispute. Be warned: there is an express expectation of compliance for litigants in person, and the courts have readily stated that compliance with the rules is not only for lawyers.

We are happy to advise those either bringing or responding to a claim, either by offering a legal analysis, or by drafting correspondence or court paperwork. Whilst our involvement can be kept to whatever level you are comfortable with, it is always beneficial to instruct a lawyer as soon as you can.

To discuss instructing us to represent you, please contact Daniel Tetsell at dtetsell@thursfields.co.uk

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