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Why so serious? Lachaux and the threshold of ‘serious harm’ in section 1 Defamation Act 2013

Bennett, T. (2018). Why so serious? Lachaux and the threshold of ‘serious harm’ in section 1 Defamation Act 2013. Journal of Media Law, 10(1), pp. 1-16. doi: 10.1080/17577632.2018.1446403


In Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that s 1 Defamation Act 2013 was intended to “raise the bar” for defamation claims above the standard previously demanded at common law. However, despite finding that this was Parliament’s intention in enacting s 1, the Court held that this intention had not been successfully implemented by the wording of the Act. The notion that libel is a tort that is actionable per se is one that has a lengthy heritage at common law. However, an examination of case law between 2005 and 2013 reveals that libel had ceased to be actionable per se long before the new s 1 appeared on the statute books. The Court of Appeal thus based its ruling on a misunderstanding of the pre-Act common law position, resulting in a failure to interpret the Act in a manner consistent with the Parliamentary intention that the Court identified, thereby frustrating that very intention.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis inJournal of Media Law on 15 Mar 2018 available online:
Publisher Keywords: Defamation; libel; actionable per se; s 1 Defamation Act 2013
Subjects: K Law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
Text - Accepted Version
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