PRII Proposes Reform of the Defamation Act

The PRII has today (20/12/2016) made a submission to the Department of Justice and Equality’s public consultation on the Review of the Defamation Act 2009.

Public relations and communications professionals have unique exposure to Ireland’s defamation legislation; on one-side they are conscious of it in terms of the protection it offers to their client or employer’s reputation, but on the other side, they are exposed to it in terms of their own publishing on social media, in press releases or website content.

PRII recently surveyed members and sought further contributions on the topic. The survey highlighted a broad consensus among members that there was need for reform regarding:

  • how online defamation is treated;
  • the Press Council’s powers; and
  • reform of the judicial process.

Those areas form the basis of PRII’s submission and it makes the following proposals to the Department of Justice’s Defamation Act 2009 review:

  1. Section 27 of the 2009 Act (which allows for the defence of innocent publication by internet service providers and social media platforms), should be made contingent on such bodies complying with new, statutory requirements in terms of how they handle complaints concerning defamation;
  2. that trials before the High Court for defamation be, in general, only tried before judges;
  3. that the Press Council be given the ability to levy fines;
  4. that the provisions of the 2009 Act be updated so that all publishers are eligible for membership of the Press Council, including broadcasters such as RTÉ in respect of their online content;
  5. that the public relations and communications profession be represented on the Press Council; and
  6. that there be a statutory review of the legislation every three years by the Minister.


Read the full submission here.


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