Understanding The Defamation Act 2013

* Disclaimer: The following is based on internet research. I am not a legal expert, just an observer.

Authors, journalists, publishers, bloggers can be accused of defamation and there have been significant and extremely costly legal cases. A new law, The Defamation Act 2013 introduces a ‘serious harm’ threshold which may mean fewer cases will come to court by rebalancing the law by providing more effective freedom of speech.

So what is ‘defamation?’ 

Defamation is when you injure a person’s reputation; in legal speak, it’s when you “lower them in the estimation of the community or deter third persons from dealing with them.” It’s a false statement of fact. Only living people can sue for defamation; heirs cannot make a claim about a deceased relative’s reputation.

The allegedly defamed person must prove that he is identifiable to readers by the setting, physical description or other factors. Changing someone’s name and physical description is a good start, but it isn’t necessarily enough to prevent a lawsuit. Truth, however, is always a defense to a defamation charge. As long as you can prove your ex cheated on his taxes, he cannot sustain a defamation claim.

What if you don’t have proof? A defamation claim can be based only on something stated as fact—so, the good news is that your opinions are protected expression. That said, don’t think simply couching your accusation as opinion—“It’s my opinion that John Jones deals drugs,” or, “I believe Sara Smith embezzles from her employer”—is an easy cop out. Any such opinions need to be clearly relevant to your story, and should be supported with viable evidence or reasoning.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you self-publish without sales goals in mind—if your book reaches only, say, a few dozen people—then the bright side is that you probably won’t get sued.

At the front of your book you can include a disclaimer: “This work is loosely based on actual events. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.”

What is The Defamation Act 2013?

Under the Defamation Act, a statement can be said to be defamatory if its publication “caused or is likely to cause serious harm” to individuals’ or businesses’ reputation. However, only if businesses have suffered, or are likely to suffer, “serious financial loss”, can they bring a claim of defamation against commentators by requiring claimants to show actual or probable serious harm (which for-profit bodies is restricted to serious financial loss), before suing for defamation in England or Wales,

The Defamation Act 2013 applies to causes of action occurring after its commencement on 1 January 2014;[5] old libel law will therefore still apply to many 2014 – 2015 defamation cases where the events complained of took place before commencement.

The Act introduces a ‘serious harm’ threshold

This new threshold ‘raises the bar’ for claimants looking to bring a defamation action. Those looking to allege defamation will need to show that a statement has caused or is likely to cause, ‘serious harm’ to the claimant’s reputation. In situations where the claimant is a corporate entity, section 1(2) states that:

harm to the reputation of a body that trades for profit is not “serious harm” unless it has caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.”

This does not mean that companies will need to show financial loss at the outset. However, there is a clear move to considering whether serious financial loss is a likely result as a consequence of the statement being made.

The effect of the new ‘serious harm’ threshold is that parties should be dissuaded from bringing trivial actions for comments that have little or no impact on the individual’s/company’s reputation or financial position.

 

http://www.journalism-now.co.uk/sue-sue-defamation-libel-media-law-ethics-ian-anderson-week-3/

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/contents/enacted

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/content/six-things-all-journalists-need-know-about-defamation-act-2013-which-now-force

 

 

 

What Do Amazon Rankings Really Mean?

Keep calm carry on writing! Amazon’s rankings are rather like the Stock Exchange; up and down every hour and rather like the Amazon basin – a total mystery! However when you hit the top 100 bestsellers’ listing it certainly gives you a bit of a buzz. And raises your self esteem a few notches.

Today I am 3rd in the humorous dark comedy section next to Hilary Mantel ‘The Assasination of Margaret Thatcher’ http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/4542726031/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_kinc_1_5_last

I am also 7th in the dysfunctional family relationship section http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/4542726031/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_kinc_1_5_last

There has been a lot written about the Amazon rankings and pundits have tried to get inside the mind of how Amazon works. Look at the following useful articles:

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/message/217863

http://ryancaseybooks.com/amazon-ranking-myths/

This final article is very interesting:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-zelevansky/whats-your-number-confess_b_1677864.html

We authors could get obsessed by the hour by hour rankings in the same way some people share The Financial Times Index. We don’t really understand how they work. We probably never will. All we need to concentrate on is getting our next book written, staying focused on our writing and also trying to get as many good reviews as possible. I think good reviews are the key to success because the ranking possibly don’t mean very much at all.

Significant drug use in Haywards Heath professionals warn

 

 My local GP recently told me that there is a significant drug problem in the town and that many parents are far too indifferent to the risks because many remember enjoying the drug in their early twenties when it was much milder. He also expressed concern that young people are now using cannabis at a much younger age. A local secondary school and the local Police Liaison Officer also told me that there is a significant problem in Haywards Heath. I asked the school if they were able to do more; for instance holding a meeting for parents, raising a greater awareness of the dangers among parents. I was told that it would give the impression to the local community that the school had a big drug problem when in fact this was a national problem.

Talking to other parents in Haywards Heath I am very shocked by their general complacent attitude towards drugs: ‘it’s just a phase,’ ‘I took cannabis years ago and I’m ok’ and ‘we can’t do anything.’ Nobody knows what to do. Nobody seems to care.

In view of the above I wrote to Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames regarding cannabis misuse and newer psychoactive substances in Haywards Heath and he is very concerned to tackle the drug problem in his constituency.

The Mid Sussex Neighbourhood Policing Team at Haywards Heath Police Station responded to Soames with the following comments:

“I would respond quite candidly by agreeing that the numbers of young people misusing cannabis in and around Haywards Heath is a significant cause for concern.”

“It is my observation that there is a poor understanding of the long term dangers of cannabis misuse amongst young people who are taught by their peers that the drug is harmless. In a low crime area such as Mid Sussex parents are often naive as to the actual dangers and are therefore ill-equipped to support their children to learn just what they are risking in terms of their physical and mental health. “

 

These are the specific concerns of  Sussex Police:

1. The lack of knowledge of the medium and long term effects of the cannabis.

2. The links to family conflict and dysfunction as teenagers’ mood and mental health declines through cannabis misuse.

3. The refusal of some local schools to accept the problem exists for fear of reputational harm.

4.  The very real personal danger involved in associating with and becoming indebted to drug dealers.

5. The danger of driving while intoxicated. This is a generation who have not considered that driving whilst under the influence of cannabis is just as dangerous as alcohol and illegal.

 

On Thursday 30th October Norman Baker Minister of State for Crime Prevention published an expert panel report on the challenge of New Psychoactive Substances: a report which emphatically says “these so called ‘legal’ highs present a challenge that cannot be ignored.”

 

My personal opinion is that under huge pressures of Government cutbacks the Police will be struggling to tackle this growing problem in Mid Sussex. I believe as a community of parents we should all be working together to fight the war on drugs and not to be complacent to the dangers of drug use among our teenagers. I would like to see a community action project set up. We cannot ignore this problem anymore. We have buried our heads in the sand for too long. If it isn’t your child today it could be tomorrow. Join the war on drugs.

 

Useful Links:

 

http://www.sussex.police.uk

http://news.sky.com/story/1363122/cameron-insists-drugs-policy-is-working

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-29827854

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/05/war-on-drugs-failed-decriminalise-illegal-use

D is for Dreadful Dating Disasters The ‘D’ Word

D is for Dreadful Dating Disasters.

My worst dating disaster was in a cafe in East Hoathly. http://www.muffinscafe.co.uk

Date was from the free dating website www.freedating.co.uk

Being in a relationship, part of a couple can be a wonderful thing but some dates are absolutely dreadful. My worst date was with a retired 60 year old man whose life was filled with growing potatoes and walking his dogs.

Dreadful Dating disaster 1: He didn’t offer me a coffee. I had to buy my own. Dreadful Dating Disaster 2. I sat down. He looked out of the window saw some dog poo on the pavement & talked about dog poo for the next 15 minutes which led to him talking about his dogs for the next hour – Pippin & Congo. He talked about their names, their bowel movements, their daily routines. His ‘babies’ were number one in his life. He kep saying ‘you want a man with a dog don’t you?’

Dreadful Dating Disaster  3. He didn’t want to ask anything about my life & actually said ‘please excuse me time is limited so I will steam ahead with everything I want to say.’ I’m patient. I listened for an hour then made my excuses to go. Dreadful Dating Disaster 4. He told me off for having my mobile on the table (I had it on view for any work calls) which led to him getting angry about drivers using mobiles & women checking their phones during dates. Dreadful Dating Disaster 5. He has an allotment but said there were too many Poles growing too much cabbage!

 

 

1:3 of us will die with Dementia

We are all now living longer and inevitably this, and the fact that doctors know more about the illness means that more of us will die with dementia.

The figures presented by Hilary Evans, Director of External Affairs for Alzheimer’s Research today make for stark reading. Dementia up by 50% in recent years. It’s the leading cause of death in women. 60,000 deaths in the UK are attributable to dementia.

There is no cure, no treatment and yet this area of medicine needs desperate investment and funding to train medical staff. When I worked in a care home as a carer we only received a one day course in dementia training. We were underpaid, (£6.79 & this was a night shift) understaffed to deal with the huge task of caring for dementia patients. Action is urgently needed.

http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org

http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/staff/

The Mental Capacity Act 2005

On average a person will be assessed by a doctor four times before  a formal diagnosis of dementia is made. There are many types of dementia and it can be hard to get a formal diagnosis.

This Government website is useful to understand the law better https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/mental-capacity-act-making-decisions

 

Diabetes a sign of the times

 

Diabetics are often confused; have a false sense of security believing they have good control. Very often they do not know what hbAIC targets they should meet.

Read further about diabetes and the time bomb of our time.

http://www.idf.org/webdata/docs/ChooseControlReport.pdf