• Research Briefing

    Defamation Bill Committee Stage Report

    This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Defamation Bill. It complements Research Paper 12/30 prepared for Commons Second Reading. The date for Report Stage and Third Reading has yet to be announced.

  • Research Briefing

    Defamation Bill [Bill no 5 of 2012-13]

    The Government indicates that the Defamation Bill is designed to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. Proposals to reform the defamation laws have a long history and bids to change the law have been somewhat contentious. Currently, defamation is governed substantially by the common law. Statutory intervention has been infrequent and the last Act exclusively concerned with defamation was passed in 1996. The Government committed to reform the defamation law in its Coalition Agreement. A draft Bill was published in March 2011 and subject to extensive pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government also conducted a separate consultation on the draft Bill. The Defamation Bill extends to England and Wales only. Second Reading is expected to take place on 12 June 2012.

  • Research Briefing

    Viral “Breadwinner” hoax email alleging abuse of fostering allowances

    A number of MPs have contacted the Library concerning an e-mail that constituents have forwarded alleging abuse of the fostering system in order to benefit from the allowances available. The e-mail in question is not based in fact, and is a hoax. This short note explains the many errors in the “Breadwinner” email, and notes that an almost identical US version is also in circulation, which seems to be the source of the version discussed in this note.

  • Research Briefing

    The Draft Defamation Bill

    On the 15th of March 2011, the Government published the Draft Defamation Bill and a consultation paper (which included questions on a number of issues which were not included in the Bill itself). The consultation will remain open until 10 June 2011 and a Government response is promised by autumn 2011. The draft Bill was the Government's response to a number of complaints that had been raised around the defamation laws in England and Wales. The consultation paper noted that "there has been mounting concern over the past few years that our defamation laws are not striking the right balance, but rather having a chilling effect on freedom of speech". It also acknowledged worries that the threat of libel proceedings might be used to frustrate robust scientific and academic debate or to impede responsible investigative journalism.

  • Research Briefing

    Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill : Committee Stage Report

    This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill (the Bill). It complements Research Paper 11/07 prepared for the Commons Second Reading. The Bill is a Private Member's Bill. It was presented to Parliament by Greg Knight, through the ballot procedure, on 30 June 2010 as Bill 8 of 2010-11 and had its second reading on 21 January 2011. The Bill had a single sitting in a Public Bill Committee on 16 February 2011. No amendments had been tabled and there was no disagreement to any of the clauses. The Bill was reported without amendment. The Bill would, in certain circumstances, protect the inheritance rights of the descendants of people who have forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased; or who have decided not to accept their own inheritance. Broadly, it would implement, with modifications, a number of the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 2005 report, The Forfeiture Rule and the Law of Succession. The Bill would extend to England and Wales.

  • Research Briefing

    Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill

    The Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Greg Knight under the ballot procedure. The Ministry of Justice has indicated to Greg Knight that it will support the Bill and has assisted with drafting the Bill and the Explanatory Notes. The Bill would protect the inheritance rights of the descendants of people who have: • forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased; or • decided not to accept their own inheritance. It would give general effect to the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 2005 report, The Forfeiture Rule and the Law of Succession, which were accepted by the Labour Government in 2006. Similar provisions to those contained in the Bill were included in the Draft Civil Law Reform Bill which the Labour Government published in December 2009. The Coalition Government is not proceeding with that draft Bill.