Big increase in online defamation cases

  Forum Editor 19:40 PM 28 Aug 11
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I know I'm sometimes a real pain about what is said in our threads, but this is why:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14684620

"Commenting on the figures, Barrister Korieh Duodu, a media specialist with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, said much of what appeared online was written by people who did not check facts in the way that media organisations do."

  morddwyd 19:49 PM 28 Aug 11

Seven to sixteen, while admittedly more than double, is hardly a major increase on the scale of say, the increase in personal injury accident cases.

Similarly, I am no statistician, but I would not think 83 to 86 would be regarded as "statistically significant".

I would not, however, wish to detract from the point you make.

  Forum Editor 20:05 PM 28 Aug 11

I wasn't suggesting anything, I was merely reporting a fact - that Internet related libel cases have more than doubled in a single year; that kind of increase certainly is statistically significant. The actual number of cases isn't as important as the percentage increase.

There is currently a draft defamation Bill that is designed to make it easier (and less expensive) for people like us to mount a public interest defence if we are served with a writ for libel, and as far as I'm concerned it can't come soon enough...if it comes at all.

  WhiteTruckMan 21:30 PM 28 Aug 11

"The actual number of cases isn't as important as the percentage increase."

I don't think you can reasonably say that. If 1000000 people sued last year and 2000000 sue this year then that would be statistically significant, but if 1 person sued last year and 2 this year then that isn't significant, despite being an identical percentage jump.

But on another note, one should also ask who are the real winners in these cases. or to put it another way, what is to be feared the most, damages or costs?

WTM

  ventanas 22:28 PM 28 Aug 11

What is to be feared the most, damages or costs?

Costs of course - yipee

  Forum Editor 23:03 PM 28 Aug 11

"It's little wonder that some people think they can say what they like online when they see the 'professionals' get away with it"

I'm struggling to see any logic in that proposition. You seem to be forgetting that it isn't just us who would be in court defending a libel action - it would also be the person in the forum who published the libel in the first case - why would someone want to put themselves in that position because they had seen a newspaper say something that wasn't true?

  Forum Editor 23:10 PM 28 Aug 11

WhiteTruckMan

I suggest a quick course on statistics. If the incidence of something doubles in a 12 month period it's very significant in statistical terms,especially when a court action for libel may involve very large sums of money, quite apart from the fact that twice as many people suffered the stress and indignity of having false allegations made about them in public.

You may not think that libel is a serious matter, but you would probably change your mind if it happened to you.

As to what is feared most, damages or costs, they're the same thing. If damages are awarded they amount to an additional cost as far as the defendant is concerned - it's all money.

  nangadef 00:14 AM 29 Aug 11

In all reporting %s are used when the actual increase is insignificant.

1 to 2 is only 1 extra case (however nasty it may be) but it isn't as striking as quoting a 100% increase.

With immigration, for example, hundreds of thousands are quoted because that's more striking than quoting (say) a 1% increase.

  robgf 01:21 AM 29 Aug 11

What happens if an ordinary person is sued and loses. They may get damages and costs against them for tens of thousands, but only have assets of hundreds. Who pays the lawyers etc?

  WhiteTruckMan 09:02 AM 29 Aug 11

FE

"I suggest a quick course on statistics."

Been there, done that. (Open University M343 Applications of probability) Thats why I know you are trying to push it too far in applying the numbers to the real world. Remember the old saw about lies, damn lies...etc? Last week I found a penny. This week I found a 2p. Does this mean I will be a millionaire by christmas? Lets not be silly.

As for damages Vs costs, it is the rediculous cost of legal representation that is bar to justice, and also has a detrimental effect on everyday life from the obscene costs of major enquiries to the rise of ambulance chasing no win no fee firms who push scurrilous human rights, health & safety, and motor accident claims (to name just a few).

WTM

  morddwyd 09:39 AM 29 Aug 11

"that kind of increase certainly is statistically significant. "

It certainly is.

It was the 83 to 86 which I suggested, as a non-statistician, might be statistically insignificant.

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