Defamation is one of the most widely known torts in the modern day world with the public being more aware of their rights and business men and people of the working class being solely dependent on their reputation. Nowadays with the media and the forums being so well connected and viral it’s almost impossible that innuendos tend to be suppressed or ignored the way they used to be in the 19th century.
Therefore people are A) more careful in using words against fellow colleagues and B) in need of a better way of protecting themselves and their reputations as to some its one and the same thing. So defamation being such a widespread problem especially in the UK demanded that the courts develop an approach and a system that will make it more accessible and streamlined as for the protection of both the claimant and the defendant.
However the current system is far from what is explained earlier, problems such as fake claims and pressurizing tactics especially in high profile cases mean deniability of both accessibility and a streamlined process for the public. And calls for reform in this area of tort law have been made again and again and finally in 2013 the Parliament came up with the Defamation Act 2013. The Act mainly focuses on decreasing the workload on the courts by streamlining claims and giving powers to the court to dismiss a claim on the outset without parties incurring lengthy and costly litigation.
Another area that the Act focuses on and has encompassed is that of defamation through forums like Facebook etc. This is a welcoming step by the Parliament to recognize the need for a whole new forum that has the ability to make information viral in seconds and ruining reputation in seconds.
Even though the reforms that the Act has brought forth are not that comprehensive and still have gaping holes in it a very positive thing is the proactive step taken by the government to develop an area of law with the changing atmosphere and demo graphs of a multi cultural society such as Britain.
The “gaping holes” that remain includes the fact that that there is no clear cut definition of defamation in it; with these forums, for example; Is ‘liking’ a status on Facebook also defamation, because as per the Act republishing a defamatory statement is also defamation. Is ‘liking’ a status and endorsing it and the very fact that people can see that you have liked a particular status not also republishing it?
So there certainly remains ambiguity at the current Act even so and how will it affect the public and the trend in defamation litigation and mindset is still yet to be analyzed for which it requires time for the new approach to settle in and then analyze the case law in a more rock hard analysis of this area of law.