IPSO Blog: Launch of the compulsory arbitration scheme – what do the changes mean?

Complaints and Arbitration Officer Madeline Palacz on what the changes to IPSO's arbitration scheme mean and how we might be able to help you access your legal rights quickly, cheaply and effectively with compulsory arbitration.

IPSO’s complaints process enables you to make a complaint under the Editors’ Code of Practice, free of charge. IPSO doesn’t just handle complaints against the press. We also run an arbitration scheme for legal claims and from today, a compulsory version of the scheme is now in operation. 

This blog explains what arbitration is, what the new changes mean and how IPSO’s scheme might be able to help you. As the Complaints and Arbitration Officer, I am always happy to answer any questions members of the public may have about arbitration and our scheme. I hope that the changes which we have made today will mean that people who feel that they have been wronged by a newspaper are able to access their legal rights quickly, cheaply and effectively. 

What is arbitration? 

Since 2016 we have operated an arbitration scheme which enables members of the public to access their legal rights. 

I often speak to members of the public who are concerned that a newspaper has libeled them, or invaded their privacy. Taking a newspaper to court can often be an expensive, stressful and drawn-out experience; IPSO’s arbitration scheme provides an inexpensive and straight forward alternative. 

Arbitration works like court, but with some key differences. 

In IPSO’s arbitration Scheme, you will be able to make legal claims against participating publications, including claims for libel, invasion of privacy, data protection and harassment. Instead of a judge in a court room, a highly experience media law barrister will be deciding whether or not your claim is successful, and will award you a remedy if the law has been broken. 

It’s important to remember that, unlike making a complaint under the Editors’ Code of Practice, making an arbitration claim is not free. But it is low cost compared to legal action through the courts – if your claim is taken forward, you may be liable to pay up to £100. 

What do the new changes mean? 

Since 2016, it has been voluntary for a publication signed up to our scheme to participate in it. The changes which we’ve announced mean that there will now be two versions of the scheme: a compulsory version, as well as the voluntary version. 

Under the compulsory version of the scheme, if you have a genuine legal claim against a national newspaper participating in the scheme, the newspaper has no choice but to arbitrate. Seven best-selling national daily newspapers and eight best-selling Sunday newspapers have agreed to sign up and you can win damages of up to £60,000 and recover costs of up to £25,000. 

Why should I use the scheme? 

It’s cheaper that court. People using our arbitration scheme would pay £50 to begin the process, and £50 to reach a final ruling. 

If you lose in court, it is likely that you will have to pay legal costs of the publisher. You will not have to pay the publisher’s costs as part of the IPSO scheme (unless your claim is ruled to be frivolous or vexatious). 

What should I do next? 

If you think that you have a genuine legal claim against a participating publication, have a look at the information on our website. This explains what you need to do in order to submit a claim. 

The three things you should think about are: 

If you need more information or help in understanding and using the scheme contact me on 0300 123 22 20 or email arbitration@ipso.co.uk


Originally published 2 August 2018.