The Society of Editors has welcomed the launch of a new low-cost arbitration scheme by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) which will offer an inexpensive route to settling libel claims.
Speaking in the wake of the announcement yesterday that IPSO had significantly reduced the costs of its arbitration scheme to no more than £100 for a complainant, the Society urged the government to welcome the Leveson-compliant move and to now look to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.
Ian Murray, Deputy Executive Director of the Society said: “The Society welcomes the launch of IPSO’s low-cost arbitration scheme which will now allow anyone to bring a claim against a newspaper for no more than £100.
“By providing a cheap route to justice for claimants, those that believe they have been wronged by the press can now seek redress without the often- excessive expense that comes hand-in-hand with having to go to court. This is what was envisioned by the Leveson Report.”
Under the previous IPSO arbitration scheme, launched in 2016, claimants were asked to pay £300 plus VAT to lodge a claim and £2,800 plus VAT to take a case to a full claim. The new IPSO scheme has been signed up to by all the national newspaper titles who are members of the regulator. The scheme provides a damages ceiling of £50,000 for libel and privacy payouts in comparison with awards of more than £200,000 for privacy and libel cases which can be achieved in the civil courts.
The announcement of the arbitration scheme by IPSO now meets the requirements set out by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in its response to the government consultation on Section 40, the Society said.
Murray added: “As recognised by Damian Collins MP, the introduction of a low-cost arbitration scheme by IPSO is a significant step towards meeting the requirements by MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee as to the provisions IPSO must provide in order for the government to repeal Section 40. This legislation, which has been condemned by the press and members of the public alike, fundamentally goes against the principle that justice should be fair and would have a chilling effect on both national and regional and local newspapers.
‘In light of this week’s announcement, any objective consideration by the government of the efforts of the newspaper industry to respond positively to Leveson should now conclude that the spirit of his recommendations have been met. As promised in the Conservative manifesto, the government must now take steps to repeal the legislation.”
The outcome of the government consultation on Section 40 is expected before Christmas.
To view full details of the IPSO arbitration scheme, read more here.