Libel tourism is a serious threat to freedom of expression and information, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers warns today.
Its declaration criticises the practice which allows complaints in jurisdictions where it is easy to sue and with courts thought to be the most likely to deliver favourable judgments.
It can have a “chilling effect for freedom of expression,” the committee concludes. “In some cases, libel tourism can be considered as an attempt to intimidate and silence critical and investigative media.”
According to the committee, the risks of libel tourism have been exacerbated as a consequence of globalisation and Internet content being persistently accessible, in such a way that it is often impossible to predict where a defamation claim will be filed.
The committee states that “the prevention of libel tourism should be part of the reform of defamation laws in member states. It also wants the creation of clear rules on applicable laws and jurisdiction in order to enhance legal predictability and certainty, in line with European Court of Human Rights´s case law, and concerning the proportionality of damages in libel cases.