Arbitration

What is the IPSO arbitration scheme?

The IPSO arbitration scheme allows you to make a legal claim against titles participating in the scheme. You can make a claim related to defamation (libel and slander), malicious falsehood, misuse of private information, breach of confidence, harassment and data protection.

Can I pursue a complaint and an arbitration claim at the same time?

No. IPSO cannot process an arbitration claim whilst a complaint relating to the same issue is ongoing. IPSO reserves the right to close a complaint if you decide to pursue a legal claim relating to the same issue, regardless of whether that claim is pursued via arbitration.

However, you can do one after another, for example making a complaint first and going to arbitration after. 

How much does it cost?

In order for an arbitrator to be appointed and provide a preliminary ruling you will be required to pay an administrative fee of £50.

If you decide to continue to a final ruling you will be required to pay a final ruling fee of £50.

If you choose to use a lawyer, you will also need to cover their fees, but costs can be awarded as part of your claim.

Do I need a lawyer to pursue arbitration?

The scheme is designed for claimants who do not have a lawyer, known as litigants in person. However, whilst you don't need a lawyer, arbitration does require you to advance a legal argument and pursue a claim within a legal framework. Whilst the arbitrator can help by acting in a way that balances the difference of legal knowledge between you and the publisher, you may feel that legal advice or representation is beneficial.

It is your responsibility to assess whether or not you need legal advice or representation and to obtain that advice or representation should you decide you need it. IPSO is unable to give you legal advice relating to your claim and can only offer advice about the process and scheme rules.

What if the publisher does not want to arbitrate?

All national newspapers are part of a compulsory scheme which means they must arbitrate any genuine claim. Members of the voluntary scheme may decide on a case by case basis whether to accept arbitration. If they do not wish to arbitrate your claim you may be able to make a complaint under the Code through IPSO's usual process.

Are there financial risks?

You will be asked to pay a small administrative fee of £50-100 in order to pursue arbitration. This fee can be recovered if your claim is successful (i.e. your claim is upheld and the relief granted by the arbitrator is more favourable than an offer previously made by the publisher).

If you engage a lawyer you will have to pay your lawyer’s fees, but may recover some or all of these costs from the publisher if your claim is successful. This will usually be up to £10,000 but can be increased to £25,000 if both parties agree. 

Regardless of the success of your claim you may also recover some fees and costs if the publisher is found to have frustrated the process.

If your claim is unsuccessful or unsuitable, you will not be asked to pay the publisher’s fees or costs. You will also not have to pay the publisher's costs or fees as part of the first (preliminary) ruling. The only circumstance in which you may be required to pay the publisher's legal costs and fees is where your claim is struck out. The arbitrator may strike out your claim on the grounds that it is frivolous, vexatious, wholly without merit or trivial, as well as in situations where you have frustrated the process. You would only need to pay legal costs (if at all) up to the cost cap of £10,000 (or £1,000 if you are a litigant in person). 

The scheme rules detail the costs and financial risks associated with arbitration in more detail.

What outcomes are available?

If your claim is upheld as part of a final ruling the arbitrator can generally grant the same relief as a court. In particular, the arbitrator can:

  • require the publisher to pay you damages (up to £60,000)
  • require the publisher not to re-publish the information or the words which are the subject of the claim
  • require the publisher to remove the information or the words which are the subject of the claim from the publisher’s website or other online platforms over which the publisher has control
  • require the publisher to use all reasonable endeavours to secure the removal of the information or words which are the subject of the claim from third party websites and/or other online platforms
  • require the delivery or destruction of offending material
  • require the publisher to desist from the conduct which is the subject of the claim
  • direct the publisher to publish a summary of the arbitrator’s final ruling in claims for defamation.

Arbitrators cannot grant pre-publication injunctions.

Will my claim's ruling be published?

Only final rulings can be published and this will be at the arbitrator's discretion. 

Can I change my mind after I've signed an arbitration agreement?

If you want to withdraw your claim you can do so at any point of the process.

However, depending on the stage at which this is done and the Arbitrator’s opinion of your conduct in withdrawing the claim you may have to refund fees or costs to the publisher.

You will not be able to recover the fees which you have already paid if you choose to withdraw after an arbitrator is appointed to your claim. You will remain bound by any ruling already given by the arbitrator if you chose to withdraw.

How long will a claim take?

The time taken to resolve a dispute within the arbitration scheme will largely depend upon the complexity of the claim and the level of party engagement with the process.

In general the arbitrator will aim to complete claims within 90 days of their appointment.

IPSO will make the pre-appointment process as efficient as possible.

Will I have to attend an oral hearing to arbitrate?

No. In general the arbitrator will give a ruling based on written arguments only. You may agree with the publisher to hold an oral hearing if necessary, but you cannot be compelled to use an oral hearing for your claim.

Is my claim suitable for arbitration?

The Rules require an arbitrator, “as a matter of priority”, to decide if a claim is suitable for arbitration. A scheme can be unsuitable for the following reasons:

  • There is a public interest in having the claim heard in court
  • The claim raises a novel or complex point of law
  • The claim is likely to take a long time to resolve
  • A claim raises a substantial or serious dispute of fact which cannot fairly be resolved by the arbitration process, for example because it requires cross examination, a large amount of disclosure or disclosure from a number of third parties

A claim that is unsuitable will be discontinued but can be pursued further in court, save for where the arbitrator has already ruled on another aspect of the claim.  

Can I arbitrate with a no win no fee agreement?

The Rules do not preclude you and your lawyer from agreeing to a no win no fee agreement, or CFA. However, in order to make the scheme cost effective for both parties, the Arbitration Agreement requires you to agree not to recover success fees or insurance premiums from the publisher (a common feature of such agreements) so you will need to discuss this with your lawyer before agreeing to arbitrate.

Which titles are participating in the scheme?

How is arbitration different to IPSO's complaints process?

IPSO's complaints process allows complaints under the Editors’ Code to be made to IPSO about any regulated publication, free of charge. This may result in IPSO’s Complaints Committee requiring the publication to publish its adjudication or a correction.

Arbitration is a process which allows legal claims to be made against a participating publisher and may result in legal remedy, including damages. Arbitration costs £50-100 in fees and there may be other costs –see “Are there financial risks?” above.

Who will the arbitrator be?

Where can I find the documents I need?

All documents related to the scheme, including the inquiry form and arbitration agreement form are available here.

How can I get more advice?

IPSO is not able to provide legal advice relating to your claim. For further explanation of the scheme, you can call Sean Sutherland, Complaints and Arbitration Officer, on 0300 12 2220 or email arbitration@ipso.co.uk.

What can the arbitration scheme take claims about?

IPSO arbitration is available for claims relating to legal matters on the following topics:

The publication of certain statements that cause you harm:

  • Defamation (Libel and Slander)
  • Malicious Falsehood

The publication or use of information that is confidential or private:

  • Breach of Confidence
  • Misuse of Private Information
  • Data Protection

The unacceptable behaviour of journalists or photographers:

  • Harassment

Further details on these are available here

What is a strike-out and what does it mean for my claim?

Once your claim has been transferred to the arbitration company and an arbitrator appointed to your case, that arbitrator can strike-out your claim if they determine:

  • your claim is wholly without merit
  • your claim is trivial, frivolous or vexatious
  • your behaviour has frustrated the arbitration process

Strike-outs can occur at any point in the arbitration process, but usually occur at the earliest possible stage. You will be given notice of a strike-out and the chance to respond. Once struck-out, the arbitrator will require you to reimburse the publisher for fees and, possibly, their legal costs.