Have you been sued? Survey gathers info on legal claims against journalists which don't reach court


Judith Townend, who runs the indispensable Meeja Law blog, has launched a survey to find out how journalists and bloggers are affected libel and privacy law.

The survey aims to find out more about the many legal disputes settled out of court.

Judith tells me: "There is very little solid data about the nature and quantity of legal claims made against the media, including small bloggers.

"Because the majority of libel claims, for example, are believed to be resolved out of court, there is no complete record of disputes.

"In short, little is known about bloggers’ and journalists’ actual legal experiences and opinions."

Judith believes the information will provide vital background at a time when both the Lord Justice Leveson and various draft Royal Charters propose arbitration and mediation to keep libel and privacy cases out of court.

Judith added: "It’s effort to build a better picture and to help inform the development of new alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. It will help inform the development of resources in this area."

The survey is open to all types of journalists and online writers who expect their readership to be predominantly based in England and /or Wales.

Judith is doing the research as the final part of her doctoral project at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ), City University London.

Data will be collected anonymously with no identification of organisations or individuals.

Cleland Thom is a trainer and consultant in media law

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