Freedom of Expression

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Content-based Speech Restrictions in the European Court

Last week the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered a major judgment in the case of Mouvement raëlien suisse v. Switzerland, no. 16354/06. This will certainly prove to be a leading European case with regard to content and viewpoint based restrictions on the freedom of expression in a public space. It is also notable because the Court was very severely split - 9 to 8 - which is not only a rarity, but highlights the controversial nature of the case and its uncertain precedential value for the future. Very briefly, these were the facts: the Raelian movement is an organization that claims that aliens have visited the Earth, leaving us a message or two; that science (well, their science) should replace religion; and that the best form of government is a 'geniocracy', i.e. rule by the highly intelligent over the masses of the mediocre. The organization has been labeled a cult by many due to the demands it makes of its members; it has also been the subject of…

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Council of Europe Ministers adopt declaration to address libel tourism

For those interested in matters of jurisdiction and cross-border litigation, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has now adopted a declaratory text alerting its 47 member states to what it termed the “serious threat to freedom of expression and information” posed by the practice of libel tourism – a practice where one chooses a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction…

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L’Affaire Weiler – A Brief Legal Assessment of the French Court’s Judgment

 Dr. Laurent Pech is Jean Monnet Lecturer in EU Public Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has published extensively on freedom of expression and recently published “Liberté d’expression: Aperçus de droit comparé” in JurisClasseur Communication (Paris: LexisNexis, 2010) and “The Law of Holocaust Denial in Europe” in L. Hennebel and T. Hochmann, Genocide Denials and…

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In the Dock, in Paris – The Judgment

UPDATE: The full text of the Judgment is now available below; some minor technical issues were fixed. UPDATE 2: An unofficial translation of the Judgment into English is now available here. On March 3, 2011, the Tribunal de Grand Instance de Paris issued its decision in the Criminal Libel Case brought against…

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In the Dock, in Paris

My entire professional life has been in the law, but nothing had prepared me for this. I have been a tenured faculty member  at the finest institutions, most recently Harvard and NYU.  I have held visiting appointments from Florence to Singapore, from Melbourne to Jerusalem. I have acted as legal counsel to governments on four continents, handled cases…

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