14 Sep 2017

Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill

Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Law Commission’s project on the reform of defamation law is approaching its final stages. The Commission has published a working draft of the Bill and the consultation period has now ended.  A working draft of the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill can be found at


The Bill is in 3 Parts and contains 36 sections and a schedule.

Part 1 deals with defamation and covers amendments to the law of defamation. It makes provision in relation to actionability of defamatory statements and restrictions on bringing proceedings, defences, absolute and qualified privilege, offers to make amends, jurisdiction and the removal of the presumption that defamation proceedings are to be tried by jury.

Part 2 deals with Verbal Injury and makes provision to replace common law verbal injuries with 3 new statutory actions relating to malicious publications causing harm

Part 3 makes provision as to remedies and limitation of defamation actions and actions under Part 2 as well as miscellaneous provisions dealing with matters such as interpretation and commencement.

The Commission intends to publish its report with recommendations and draft legislation by the end of 2017.

A series of blogs will follow analysing the provisions of the Bill, how the proposed legislation will differ between Scotland and UK, and how the proposals will have significant effect not only on those considering pursuing defamation actions in Scotland but also on the practicalities for those defending proceedings.

Campbell Deane, Head of BKF’s media law department sits on the Scottish Law Commission’s Advisory Group. A copy of his Submission to the Commission following publication of the Bill can be found at https://bkf.co.uk/blog/bkf-response-draft-defamation-malicious-publications-scotland-bill/

For a more detailed analysis of the differences between Scotland and England in defamation law, see Carter Ruck on Libel and Privacy Sixth Edition pp1319- 1323. The section was authored by Campbell Deane of BKF.

BKF are Scotland’s only no.1 ranked practice for Defamation and Reputation Management – Chambers 2017.