[FoRK] defamation: US vs. UK

Stephen D. Williams < sdw at lig.net > on > Thu Aug 3 06:21:30 PDT 2006

There is a fundamental difference between US and UK legal systems that 
probably explains this interpretation:
In the US, everyone pays for their own attorneys and costs unless they 
are specifically allowed by a relevant statute to ask for legal fees 
upon winning.  The Virginia Consumer Protection Act, a blanket damages 
vehicle that references many other statutes, has this provision.
In the UK, the loser pays all legal costs by default.
This doesn't stop attorneys from asking for legal fees from the losing 
side, threatening such costs, etc.  Probably there are statutes that 
allow for such fees for frivolous lawsuits in many jurisdictions.

This difference could be said to increase or decrease marginal and minor 
cases in various circumstances.

Civil court is based on a preponderance of the evidence, i.e. over 
50-60% certainty, rather than criminal assumption of innocence which is 
overcome by more like 90-100%.  I think that in either US or UK systems, 
there would be many circumstances where someone might assume something 
on meager facts that would then require someone to actively discredit them.

Upon reflection, I bet a lot of the difference is some statute about 
presumption of privacy and self-authority in the UK and the first 
amendment right to comment about your opinions about anything, and 
anyone, in the US.

I'd be interested in learning more details.

Somewhat related:

        Your Rights When You Are Stopped or Confronted for Photography

The right to take photographs is under assault now more than ever. 
People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing 
over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs 
of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have 
included photographing industrial plants, bridges, and bus stations. For 
the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided 
fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents 
to society.

Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an 
integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well-being of all 
Americans. Photography in the United States has contributed to 
improvements in civil rights, curbed abusive child labor practices, and 
provided important information in investigating crimes. These images 
have not always been pretty and often have offended the sensibilities of 
governmental and commercial interests who had vested interests in a 
status quo that was adverse to most other people.

Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or 
economic vitality in the United States. When people think back on the 
acts of terrorism that have occurred over the last forty years, none 
have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on 
photography would not have prevented any of these acts. Similarly, some 
corporations have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under 
the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost 
always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets 
from public view if they want to protect them. Trade secret laws do not 
give anyone the right to restrain photographers from taking photographs 
in public places.

/The Photographer's Right/ is a downloadable guide that is loosely based 
on the Bust Card and the Know Your Rights pamphlet that used to be 
available on the ACLU website. It may be downloaded and printed out 
using Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may make copies and carry them your 
wallet, pocket, or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights 
and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may 
distribute the guide to others ,provided that such distribution is not 
done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author."


Dave Long wrote:
> Interesting difference between the US and the UK:
> Under neither system can one be slandered by a true statement, but in 
> the UK it is the burden of the accused to prove their words, and in 
> the US, the burden of the accuser to discredit them.
> The latter is consistent with presumption of innocence; is there any 
> explanation beyond tradition for the former?
> -Dave
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swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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