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Government consults on defaming the dead

12 January 2011

Whether a right of action should exist against someone who defames the name of a deceased person is the subject of a new Scottish Government consultation.

The paper, "Death of a Good Name", follows a recommendation by the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee that ministers take the issue forward in this way.

Noting that proposals to bring in a right of action have been made in a number of other jurisdictions but not yet implemented, the paper asks whether such a right should exist in principle and, if so, how extensive it should be and whether it would require any adaptation of the normal provisions of defamation law such as the burden of proof.

Among options put forward are limiting any extension of the law to people who had died in defined circumstances, such as violent crime or suicide.

Other matters covered are whether any right of action should be limited to the deceased's immediate family; apology and removal of the defamatory material, and interdict, as possible remedies; whether there should be a time limit in relation to death; whether there should be specific provisions in relation to alleged miscarriages of justice; and the arrangements operated by media regulators and watchdogs for dealing with complaints.

Click here to access the paper.

Responses are invited by 4 April.



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