A public consultation on proposals to reform defamation law has been opened in the wake of a report by the Scottish Law Commission.

Scottish ministers are following up on the Commission's 49 recommendations by inviting the public to have their say.

The consultation calls for views on a number of issues raised through the Scottish Law Commission’s report – those areas of defamation law where respondents to the Commission raised a variety of issues. These are:

  • the statutory threshold test of serious harm;
  • proceedings against secondary publishers;
  • the defence of honest opinion;
  • offers to make amends;
  • malicious publications; and
  • limitation and the multiple publication rule.

However it also seeks views on some issues that were not raised as part of the Commission’s project.

The paper also states that the Government is "minded to follow" the Commission's view that the law should not be changed to enable actions to be brought on behalf of people who have died. It also proposes to proceed with 31 recommendations which appear uncontentious.

Launching the consultation, Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham said: “Defamation law potentially affects everyone and it is crucial that we ensure the law is fit for modern Scotland.

“The enormous growth in the use of social media presents new challenges and means that defamatory communication is becoming increasingly instant and common.

“It is crucial that we strike the right balance between the two values that often pull in opposing directions – freedom of expression and the protection of an individual’s reputation.

“Consultation is an essential part of the process and members of the public have an important part to play in reforming the law on defamation and ensuring it is fit for the future.”

Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 5 April 2019.