Recently we relaunched our arbitration scheme, making it cheaper and more accessible to the public. This move was welcomed by many, including the Chair of the Digital Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, Damian Collins.
The scheme allows ordinary people to bring claims for breaches of the law – including defamation, privacy, harassment and data protection issues – against newspapers and magazines more cheaply, easily and quickly than is possible through the courts. The maximum cost for a claimant of using the scheme is £100.
For the public, the scheme gives access to legal redress against publishers where going to court would be too expensive. It allows claims to be dealt with quicker, within a streamlined process designed specifically for media law disputes. Most claims will be dealt with on paper, reducing the burden on parties because they do not need to attend and organise oral hearings.
For publishers, the scheme allows them to defend their work within a cost controlled environment, providing a greater opportunity to defend against claims designed to intimidate them with the expense of a trial.
For the courts, it has the potential to relieve pressure on their finite resources by dealing with simple claims more effectively outside of the court process.
The scheme has been made possible by a consultative process with the legal and publishing industries. We were glad to have been able to direct this effort and I would like to personally thank everyone who played a part in developing the scheme. Such support shows a genuine commitment to improving access to justice and was vital for us in producing a robust and balanced set of rules and procedures for streamlining media law disputes.
We are also particularly pleased to have retained the support of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and our arbitrator panel. CEDR are Europe’s biggest dispute resolution company and we have benefitted hugely from their expertise. They administer arbitrations and appoint an arbitrator to each claim. Our arbitrators are barristers from some of the most well-respected media law Chambers in the UK and each have at least 10 years media law experience to call on. They act as a judge for claims and can make inquiries of the publisher so that claimants are not disadvantaged by a lack of legal knowledge.
We have already seen a growing interest in the scheme since its relaunch. I look forward to seeing it develop further into a stable of media law practice, improving access to justice for claimants and publications and freeing up the courts to focus on more complex claims.