Scottish Law Commission publishes draft libel reform bill in Report on Defamation

The Scottish Law Commission has published its Report on Defamation, which includes a draft defamation reform bill.

This follows hundreds of citizens and civil society groups joining us in responding to the SLC's consultations on defamation in 2016 and on a working draft of a defamation reform bill this summer.

The SLC's draft bill includes:

  • - a defence of publication on a matter of public interest
  • - a serious harm test, meaning that claimants would be required to prove serious harm before a claim can proceed
  • - a single publication rule, so that the time limit for bringing a defamation claim applies from the first publication of a statement and is not reset every time that statement is shared, for example by re-tweeting
  • - a reduction of the time limit for bringing a claim from three years to one year


Stephanie Mathisen from the Libel Reform Campaign, said:

The Libel Reform Campaign welcomes the Scottish Law Commission's Report on Defamation. In particular, we are pleased to see its recognition of the importance of protecting publication on matters of public interest and the requirement for claimants to prove that serious harm has been caused before a libel claim can proceed. We are delighted the SLC has published a draft bill, opening the way for the Scottish parliament to address Scotland's outdated libel laws. We know MSPs are anxious to bring the law into the 21st century and hope they will move quickly to debate and pass a bill early in the new year.

Nik Williams, our colleague at Scottish PEN, was on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday. You can listen to Nik on the importance of the serious harm test, public interest defence and single publication rule from 1:55:40.

Want to find out more about the Libel Reform Campaign? Visit our contact page.