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Assessing the future of defamation law in Ireland
Paula Mullooly of RTE

12 Apr 2022 / legislation Print

Assessing the future of defamation law in Ireland

The Law Society will host a conference on defamation on Wednesday 27 April, with the goal of assessing the future of defamation law in Ireland.

This timely conference will assess the recent publication of the review of the Defamation Act 2009 and the current preparation of the General Scheme of a Defamation (Amendment) Bill. All practitioners involved in defamation litigation are encouraged to attend.

The venue is the Green Hall at the Law Society in Blackhall Place. The conference will run from 2.30 - 5pm and attendance will yield 2.5 general study CPD points.

Topics include:

  • A review of current defamation law and the Government report,
  • The proposed reforms: view of the defendant,
  • The proposed reforms: view of an independent barrister,
  • The ‘serious-harm’ test – how it is applied in England, and the extent to which it might run into constitutional difficulties in Ireland,
  • The importance of juries in defamation cases and a summary of recent case law.

One of the main speakers will be Mr Justice Bernard Barton (retired, small picture), judge of the High Court (2014 to 2021), who was the trial judge in several public-interest defamation cases including:

  • Ryanair v Van Zswol and others [2017],
  • O’Brien v Sunday Business Post [2019],
  • Keogh v RTE [2018],
  • Keane v Irish Daily Star [2019],
  • Coffey v Iconic Newspapers [2018],
  • Gordon v Irish Racehorse Trainers Association [2018], and
  • Gilchrist and Rogers v Sunday Newspapers Ltd [2018]. 

Speaker Paula Mullooly (director of legal affairs at RTÉ) was appointed by the Government as a member of the Working Group on Defamation Reform which, in 2003, provided a report recommending reforms and presenting draft legislation.

She also served on the Compliance Committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from 2010 to 2018, and as chair of the Censorship of Publications Appeals Board from 2004 to 2012.

Media law

Speaker David Phelan (a partner at Hayes Solicitors in Dublin and former managing partner) has been advising clients on defamation and other media-law issues since qualifying as a solicitor in 1998. He has represented media clients in several significant defamation actions.

Other speakers include Mark Harty SC, and Professor Neville Cox (Trinity College Dublin). The event will be chaired by Stuart Gilhooly SC (HJ Ward Solicitors, Dublin) who is a member of the Law Society’s Litigation Committee, and practises mainly in personal injuries and sports law.

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