Remedies in defamation cases generally include:
- An undertaking not to republish any defamatory statements;
- An apology; and/or
- A retraction.
The difficulty is however that often a party will not want to offer a formal apology through fear that it will be treated as an admission of liability.
The Apologies Bill
John Howell MP on Tuesday 1st December 2020 read out his proposal for a new bill to the House of Commons. The bill was titled “the Apologies Bill”. The purpose of the bill being to change the law so that an apology can be made without the person being subject to any legal liability.
Mr. Howell commented that when used appropriately an apology can prevent a dispute from going to Court, making reference to a similar law that has been introduced in Scotland which has been successful.
Mr. Howell’s office has commented that if the law were to change in line with the bill it would not take away people’s rights to pursue a Court action against someone who has wronged them. It will however be interesting to see whether or not people will choose to still pursue proceeding if an apology is given.
Not everyone is in favour of Mr. Howell’s bill, John Bates an academic has pointed out that a clause within the Compensation Act 2006 already confirmed that an apology should not amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty. With this in mind, he is of the view that there is no need to change the law and the bill is actually a waste of Parliament’s time.
It will be interesting to see whether there is a change in law as a result of the bill and what practical implication this will have, if any, when pursuing matters through the Courts.