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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 in which to bring a libel suit against a journalist, publisher, or academic. In calling for the reform of defamation laws in Europe to prevent libel tourism, the Committee of Ministers is also calling for some uniformity of standards. For those unfamiliar with the organs of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers is the Council’s executive body, consisting of all Foreign Ministers from the Council’s 47 member states or their deputies. The declaration adopted last week, while not a legally binding text, serves to add the voice of a weighty regional group of states to the claim that libel tourism and forum shopping in defamation cases can produce a chilling effect on expression and the availability of…

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